Herring Gull disruption and dispersal programme
What does a gull disruption and dispersal programme entail?
Scarborough Borough Council has contracted NBC Environment to perform a one year trial Herring Gull disruption and dispersal programme. This will be built around egg and nest removal supported by falconry. A successful programme taps into gulls’ natural instincts; the risks must outweigh the rewards of living at a particular nest site – the key motivator is self-preservation. If a regular nesting area can be made less attractive, inaccessible, or appear more risky for a gull, it will be less likely to select it.
While gulls will learn to disassociate audio or mechanical devices, such as gas guns or kites, from danger, they will always move on from a bird of prey. For that reason, falconry is used to modify patterns of gull behaviour, they will not settle in an area with what they perceive to have an active raptor population.
All UK birds are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and Herring Gulls have amber protected status. Under UK law it is illegal to kill or injure a bird, or to move or destroy an active nest. NBC Environment works under a general license to perform the works and its birds are trained not to kill. Individuals should not attempt to deal with gulls themselves. Not only can it put you at risk, any attempt would also be illegal and you can be prosecuted for harming a wild bird or for tampering with its nest.
Why are we moving on the gulls?
- Gulls are highly intelligent and have learned that scavenging from landfill sites and waste bins is much easier than foraging. This brings them into direct contact, and conflict, with people.
- The UK urban gull population is increasing and rooftop nesting has significantly increased over the past 15 years.
- Once a colony is established it can be very hard to move the birds on, and the problem can become incrementally worse each year. This is because gulls often return to the same nesting spot.
- Gulls can live for up to 35 years, start breeding at 3 years old and can produce around 30 chicks in a ten-year period.
- As the chicks grow and reach breeding age they may return to the same nesting spot so the number of birds, and associated problems, grows.
- A colony of gulls will remain at the nesting spot for around 6 months and once in situ it’s very hard to remove or disperse them.
A nesting site in close proximity to humans brings numerous hazards:
- Aggressive behaviour: gulls are confident and aggressive, especially during the breeding season as they are protecting their young. Motivated by food, they will regularly steal from people, causing fear and injury. Forced to forage on human resources as there are more and more restrictions to their natural food source in the marine environment.
- Damage: gull faeces builds up on roof areas and guttering, causing blockages and damage, resulting in costly repairs.
- Noise nuisance: as gull numbers increase and they compete with each other to feed their offspring, noise becomes a major problem for residents and workers.
- Health: gull faeces can cause a number of serious diseases, presenting a real hazard to people living, working and holidaying in an area with a large gull population.
- Safety: As well as being unsightly, gull faeces is a serious slip hazard.
When and where will the programme operate?
Work begins on 2nd March and will continue throughout the season. Most gulls migrate to winter in southern Europe from September onwards. Breeding season starts in March, if gulls do establish nests, the eggs will start to hatch in May and June. It’s critical to remove eggs or nests before this occurs, because once they have hatched the hatchlings are protected by environmental legislation.
This programme will focus upon problem areas identified at seafront and town centre locations in Scarborough and Whitby.
Please report gull nests to our service team on 0333 567 2020.
Falcons can cover a large area and provide an aerial threat to deter problem birds. Harris Hawks originate from the Americas and are a popular choice for bird control in urban areas. They are highly manoeuvrable, intelligent and sociable.
Jet and Gin are the perfect team for this programme. Jet, the falcon, will do most of the flying because Peregrines are natural predators to gulls – they soar at height and ‘stoop’ down at speeds gulls know they can’t outrun. This makes Jet a highly intimidating deterrent. There are two pairs of nesting wild Peregrines falcons in the Scarborough, but not within the area NBC operates, the RSPB has been made aware of the work.
Our Harris Hawk, Gin, will be a secondary deterrent, although gulls are able to outfly Harris Hawks, both adults and young are vulnerable in the nest. Gin’s size and species serves to intimidate the gulls.
If you’re in the area on Thursday 2nd March come along and visit us to find out more.
We will be in Whitby in the morning from9.30am -12pm – Join the Facebook event.
During the afternoon from 2pm until 4pm we will be in Scarborough,
join the Facebook event.
Read more about our Bird control services here