They may have to save millions from their budget, put up the rates by nearly four per cent and make major efficiencies but somehow B&NES has managed to find £60,000 to try and tackle the area’s gull ‘problem’.
Just how they are going to spend that on their ‘Urban Gull Strategy’ will be explained to a meeting of the Council’s Cabinet on Wednesday, February 10th, at which they hope to be given the official green light for a programme of nest removals, improved management of food waste and funding a research programme to better understand the ‘enemy.’
In a report – to be presented to Cabinet – officers point out that the Council has no statutory duty to act on urban gulls, but however, ‘it remains a high profile issue with local residents, businesses and visitors.’
So over – the next three years – the money will be spent on:
‘The delivery of a gull treatment programme to remove nests and eggs from roofs in areas of B&NES. It is recommended that the chosen areas are Kingsmead and Abbey wards which support the majority of the existing gull population, a former factory site in Midsomer Norton and Twerton where there are an increasing number of breeding pairs.
This work will be carried out by a procured contractor who will be required to provide regular updates and monitoring reports which will inform the gull behaviour project.
Additional officer resource, to work with businesses to ensure that trade waste is properly managed and reduce potential food sources for the gulls.
A collaborative partnership arrangement with University of the West of England and Middlesex University to better understand and map gull behaviour in Bath.
This is to be complemented by a citizens science project which aims to engage with and educate the public about the behaviour of the gulls, increase the data collection, and foster a community approach to solving the problem.
A communications campaign to support the above recommendations.’
Meanwhile, here’s the B&NES Press Release issued today – Tuesday February 2nd – and a chance for local school children to get involved in this environmental issue.
“The Council plans to work with two universities on an 18-month research project into gull behaviour. Behavioural ecology and psychology students from the University of the West of England and Middlesex University will map and track the behaviour of the gulls as they interact with their food sources and nesting sites.
Alongside this, the Council has also earmarked £60,000 to trial a series of measures to deter the gull population from settling in the city. This includes free roof treatments, including the removal of nests to affected properties in designated areas where evidence confirms large, or increasing, numbers of breeding pairs.
This is part of the Council’s co-ordinated approach to the gull problem – which also includes reducing access to food sources, and communicating the importance of keeping the streets clear of litter and waste and not feeding the gulls. If agreed by Cabinet, this work will begin immediately.
Councillor Martin Veal (Conservative, Bathavon North), Cabinet Member for Community Services, said: “This research runs in parallel with our three-pronged approach to tackling the issue of gulls in the city. It is a mutually-beneficial research project that comes at no cost to the Council. There is very little existing research available on this subject and it will give us the opportunity to gather evidence at a scale that hasn’t been possible before, providing a clear steer on future intervention work.”
The team of students will be led by UWE Head of Psychology, Dr Chris Pawson. He said: “We’re interested in the interaction between the birds and their environment. We want to gather more knowledge of the lifecycle of these protected gulls. They are intelligent animals that can live for over 30 years, and they’re making complex decisions about where they nest – we need to understand more about this. There are some areas of Bath that gulls don’t go near, even though the food source potential is very much the same – we want to know why.”
Dr Pawson said the community will play an essential role in gathering data for this research project, and a ‘citizen science’ project involving local schools is planned. “We want local residents and schools engaged in this project; we need them to help us gather information about where gulls are eating and being fed, how they are behaving, such as if they are aggressive or noisy,” he said.
Schools interested in getting involved in the citizen science project are invited to contact Dr Pawson at email@example.com.”