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.
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 (note that gulls compete with ducks and other birds at sites where people feed birds. 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)
In the past, under a Licence issued by Natural England, we have carried out an egg replacement programme to help try and reduce the number of gulls.
However, this year Natural England have imposed much more stringent conditions that have to be met before they will grant a Licence. They have made it clear that gulls have to be causing injuries or public health issues and state that “annoyance, scavenging or dive-bombing to protect chicks are excluded as reasons for applying”. They also confirmed that there is no provision to deal with gulls as a result of damage to property.
Therefore, we have not been able to obtain a Licence for an egg replacement programme for 2021.
We will however review what other work can be carried out in relation to gull control in the area, and whether the funding and resources are available.
Should a decision be made to apply for a Licence for egg replacement next year, Natural England will want evidence that non-lethal methods of control have been used. They would also want documented evidence that gulls are posing a health risk or are causing injuries to the public.
In the event that a future application for a Licence is granted, to help provide evidence, the public may contact us with details of incidents where they have been injured by gulls, or evidence that gulls are causing a health risk. Note that Natural England will not consider cases of noise, scavenging for food or dive-bombing when defending chicks. For more information, please contact our Environmental Health team using our general enquiries form.