The best ways to control gulls in built up areas are to reduce the availability of food and to try and prevent gulls from nesting. This could include:
- Not feeding gulls. Putting out a lot of food for birds could attract gulls, and is also likely to attract rats.
- Note that gulls compete with ducks and other birds at parks and rivers where people feed the birds, and gulls will kill ducklings
- Reducing food litter
- Ensuring waste food is put out in sealed containers
- Owners of buildings could proof them to prevent gulls from nesting (e.g. netting and bird spikes)
Somerset West and Taunton Council do not have a pest control service. If you have concerns about gulls nesting on your property you may want to contact a private pest control firm who can advise on appropriate methods of proofing.
As gulls are wild birds the Council is not able to investigate complaints about noise from gulls nesting on other people’s property. If you are affected you may want to speak to your neighbours to let them know about the problem, suggesting that they look at proofing their building to prevent it happening again, and point out that gulls can also damage their building and block gutters.
If you are affected by a neighbour feeding the gulls you could let them know that this will attract gulls to the area, and the food is also likely to attract rats. If you see evidence that the food is attracting rats, and you do not feel like you are able to speak to your neighbour about it, you can contact the Council’s Environmental Health team using our general enquiries form who could write to the neighbour.
Control of gulls
Although gulls are becoming more common in urban areas, they are still protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, whereby it is an offence to kill or injure gulls, or to take, damage or destroy their nests.
In the past, using a Licence under the above Act, the Council has carried out an egg replacement programme to help try and reduce the number of gulls in an area. Hoverer, Natural England have now imposed much more stringent conditions that have to be met before they will grant a Licence. Gulls have to be causing injuries or public health issues and that “annoyance, scavenging or dive-bombing to protect chicks are excluded as reasons for applying”. There is no provision to deal with gulls because they are causing damage to property.
Therefore, the Council is no longer carrying out an egg replacement programme, however, other steps are being taken that will help to control gulls, for example, installing new, sealed litter bins.
If the Council is to consider applying for a Licence to replace eggs in the future, evidence will be needed to support the application. Therefore, the public can contact us with details of incidents where they have been injured by gulls, or evidence that gulls are causing a health risk. Details can be sent to our Environmental Health team using our general enquiries form. Note that Natural England will not consider cases of noise, scavenging for food or dive-bombing when defending chicks.