Bath & North East Somerset Council will be carrying out a ‘gull count’ this month to pinpoint how many gulls there are across the district and where they are nesting, allowing targeted action to be taken.
Meanwhile, households and businesses in Bath that are experiencing issues caused by gulls are being updated on new interventions underway to tackle the problem.
The council has secured an organisational licence from Natural England which allows removal of nests and eggs during the breeding season in cases where a member of the public’s safety is at risk.
The gull nesting season runs from May until the chicks develop and fledge later in the summer and it is illegal to disturb the birds during this period.
Natural England deems that lethal action must only be carried out in order to preserve public health or safety, and also need to be confident that non-lethal measures have already been tried or will not work.
Natural England give the following examples of gull nuisance that do not justify a licence to control gulls:
- Gulls swooping on pets
- Gulls swooping on people but not making contact.
- Sleep disturbance unless this has needed treatment by a doctor
Gulls are a protected species under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Their nests can only be interfered with or removed from roofs once the nests have been abandoned.
A campaign to encourage households and businesses to Proof Your Roof has also been launched to highlight the importance of using the window of opportunity while birds are not nesting during the reminder of the year to remove nests and install gull deterrents.
Councillor Tim Ball, cabinet member for Planning & Licensing, said: “The last gull count was carried out in 2018 and reported 835 breeding pairs in Bath, 163 pairs in Midsomer Norton and 75 pairs in Keynsham. We have commissioned another count this year to improve our understanding of the colonies that affect B&NES and help us target our gull deterrents effectively.
“A key part of deterring the birds is making sure that roofs are less attractive for them to nest on. By ‘proofing your roof’ the gulls are displaced elsewhere and are less likely to cause nuisances such as sleep disturbance and soiling outdoor furniture.
“When the nesting season is over, that’s the time to get rid of old nests that might be blocking drains or causing damp in your home and to install some gull-proofing. If you’re having planned works carried out on your roof after hatchlings have fledged and the nest is abandoned, please consider incorporating some anti-gull measures alongside this. We’ve been carrying these out on our own properties and with our contractor we can offer residents a discount.
“Gulls are a regional issue so we are working with neighbouring local authorities to share information, materials and actions so that we can take a co-ordinated approach.”
Gull deterrents can include spikes or a device known as a ‘daddy long legs’. The typical cost is £150 and the council is working in partnership with a contractor to offer a 10% discount to residents in B&NES.
I don’t ‘like’ seagulls either really – they are an aggressive and noisy nuisance. So the council is doing a ‘gull count’? The answer is…far too many, and not enough being done about it. I understand one strategy is to remove the seagull eggs, but a land-owning friend of mine has a (better?) strategy, they prick the eggs so the hatchling dies and the gulls don’t simply lay more eggs…a result. Another strategy would be to get the herring gull unlisted as a protected species, then more effective culling could take place to eradicate them from cities entirely.
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