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What can be done about problem gulls?

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The Council has no responsibility to control gulls in the wild or on private properties. However, a strategy has been produced around education with the aim of reducing the gulls' access to food. It is hoped that the removal of food sources will result in a reduction in the overall numbers of urban gulls.

Gulls are wild birds and as such are not 'kept' by any individual, therefore there is no action that can be taken by the Council under statutory nuisance legislation.

What is the law on gulls?

Gulls are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. This means it is illegal to capture, injure or destroy any wild bird or interfere with a nest or eggs. However, the law provides a licensing system that allows property owners to take action in some circumstances against gulls nesting on buildings.

These specific licences can be issued for use by an 'authorised person'. This may be the landowner, occupier or someone authorised by them.

For up-to-date legislation and advice, please refer to the following:

Gulls are nesting on my property - what action can I take?

There are a variety of ways to control gulls - some are more effective than others and the costs vary. It is illegal to destroy any bird (including its chicks and eggs) as a method of control.

Experience indicates that the best way to deter gulls from nesting on your property is to take the steps outlined below.

De-nest your building

Once nests have been vacated by all birds at the end of every nesting season (usually September), remove all nests and nesting material from your building.

Bird proof your building

Just removing nests will not solve the problem on its own as birds may build another nest the following spring. Gulls must be discouraged from coming back and therefore the Council recommends the proofing of affected buildings. This can be done by fitting fine netting with a maximum mesh size of 25mm, which should be kept taut on four sides to prevent the wings of birds becoming caught in the mesh.

It is important to make sure that all possible nesting and roosting sites on the roof are protected - especially behind chimney stacks and ledges. It is also important to maintain the netting to prevent it from tearing or sagging, otherwise gulls may become entangled in the netting leading to injury and/or starvation if they are trapped and unable to feed.

Furthermore, the use of humane and safe chemical deterrents such as 'fire gel', applied on likely nesting surfaces, is also recommended. However, these need to be regularly renewed to be effective. 

You may wish to engage or consult a licensed pest control contractor who can advise you on the best way to proof your property.

Who should do the work?

You can do the work yourself or employ someone else to do it for you. There are a number of pest control companies available to carry out proofing. These can easily be found in local advertisements and by searches on the internet.

Please ensure the contractor is licensed to carry out the work.

When should it be done?

The best time to de-nest and proof buildings is at the end of the nesting season, usually around September. If you employ a company to undertake the work they will advise you further depending on your particular situation.
Proofing of buildings should be implemented outside the nesting season of gulls, between September and mid-February.

Who pays?

The responsibility and the cost of resolving any problem falls to the owner or occupier of an affected building.

My neighbour keeps feeding gulls, and they've become a problem - what can I do?

The Council always recommends having a polite word with your neighbour to advise them of the issues the gull feeding are causing, and ask them to stop. Alternatively, a polite note to a neighbour can also make them aware of the implications of their actions if they continue feeding the gulls.

There is no action that can be taken by the Council under statutory nuisance legislation to enforce against the feeding of gulls. Therefore any complaints received are not within the Councils remit to address.

Last modified on 24 May 2024

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