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Gull Menace: The Facts

Gull Menace: The Facts

6, August 2015

Recent news articles have highlighted the increasing problem with gulls. Now the summer holidays are upon us the potential for more conflict with pets and people is even higher.

The coverage online and in the papers reported that in many situations that the gull control methods are not working. However we’ve been doing this since 1993 and use tried and trusted control methods to tackle the issue of urban gulls. It’s also important to understand that legislation IS in place to control gull population providing certain conditions are met.

It’s important to individually tailor gull mitigation programmes to each situation for behavioural, access and practical reasons to ensure success, timing and planning is also key.

What has caused the urban gull issue?

No one really knows and we need to understand why gulls have found our towns and cities so attractive. There are various hypotheses such as reduction of natural habitat due to coastal erosion or commercial development, the reduction in fishing activity or less opportunity on landfill due to changes in the way refuse is handled.

One this is for sure, gulls are fantastic scavengers as well as intelligent birds so any loose litter or unsecured waste is likely to be attractive to them and targeted as a food source. This unnatural food source being easily available is part of the problem and where possible businesses and homes should secure waste and litter appropriately.

Why are gulls aggressive?

Gull can be aggressive at this time of year due their breeding season being between March and September. It’s not a personal attack against people but they will attempt to deter any potential threat to their nest or chicks.

What can be done to control the growing urban gull problem?

Urban-gull-menaceIt is possible to control gull populations legally under licence if it is carefully planned and timed. However once a nesting gull colony has been established there is no quick fix or simple solution. Gulls are habitual and monogamous with gull pairs returning to a location if nesting is successful. Any young from successful breeding will also return to the site although it will take them 2-3 years before they reach maturity and breed.

Disrupting the breeding activity and dispersing and deterring the problem gull population away is key to any successful gull control programme. Making sure gulls are unable to use the site will mean a continued programme of deterrence or the installation of gull proofing. Gull proofing is usually in the form of netting which can be used to enclose large roof areas with smaller areas the use of bird gel, spiking or electric deterrents. We have even used laser technology where roosting gulls have been a problem.

Why are gulls protected by law?

Most gull species in the UK, with the exception of the mediterranean gull, are in decline* so any call for culling is unlikely to be well received. The Kittiwake have around 300,000 breeding pairs and herring, lesser black-backed and black-headed gulls each have circa 100,000 breeding pairs*. Others gull species have smaller populations.

*Source: RSPB

Why are gulls eating mice and small birds?

Gulls are predatory opportunists with a wide varying diet both in their natural habitat as well as in the urban landscape. We’re used to see gulls pick at litter or food waste so it is a shock to see the predatory behaviour of gulls in an urban setting. Urban gulls have had over 50 years to adapt to the urban environment and its varied dietary opportunity which can include small birds, mammals or carrion.

For advice on any gull problem you can talk to our team of gull control experts by calling 0333 567 2020. We’ve been providing gull mitigation programmes nationwide since 1993 so have a unique understanding of gull biology, behaviour to that enables the deliver of effective gull menace mitigation measures.

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