Action will be taken to deal with ongoing complaints from residents and visitors about nuisance gulls in Stonehaven this spring.
The issue has also been raised as a concern through the community-led Stonehaven Town Centre Improvement Group.
Aberdeenshire Council already takes action at a range of its own properties to deal with the birds, including public buildings and schools, but this only has a limited effect in isolation.
To have a real impact on the nuisance gulls issue, assistance is required from other sections of the community.
The council is now contacting the owners of properties in the town centre which have been identified as possible nesting locations for the gulls to ask them to contribute.
Where properties are rented, landlords and their agents are also being contacted directly. The Council has no statutory duty to take action against gulls but does recognise the need to protect communities.
“The action the council takes at its own properties and public buildings cannot be successful alone in tackling the issue of nuisance gulls – there has to be a concerted and community-based approach over a longer period of time to tackle this problem,” said Kincardine and Mearns area manager, Willie Munro.
“Every year we get complaints from residents and visitors about gulls in the town centre, in terms of the mess their droppings make, noise, litter strewn from bins, damage to property and vehicles and sometimes even aggressive gulls.
“Again, this is not something the council alone can tackle and if there is support from the wider community it means we can make the town centre a more pleasant environment for everyone.”
The council is arranging for a specialist, licensed company to carry out nest and egg removal from rooftops in the town centre, but needs permission from property owners to do the work.
The pest controllers will visit the town three times, in May, June and July, as gulls can lay more eggs to replace those which have been removed.
The council undertook a similar project in Peterhead last year, removing nests and eggs from rooftops around the town centre, following on from other work being done to minimise gull nuisance.
Almost 500 eggs were removed from rooftops, reducing the number of attacks in the town. It is expected to be repeated this year.
The work has to be ongoing – gulls generally begin mating in April and nest from early May onwards. It takes four years for a gull to reach maturity and breed, with many returning to nest where they were born, so control methods need to be kept up for several years to be effective.
Action needs to happen as early in the year as possible, as once chicks have hatched it’s too late to do much to reduce bird numbers.
Council officers are working to get funding for the work, but will be seeking contributions of £50 from property owners to allow the work to continue in years to come.
This equates to a significant saving over the cost of individual properties organising the work, which could cost up to £300 for three visits.
Aberdeenshire Council’s Kincardine and Mearns Area Office is now contacting affected properties in the town to seek permission to carry out inspections and any subsequent work required.
To discuss any issues relating to the project, call Diane Strachan, Area Project Officer, on (01569) 768323 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The council’s leaflet – Survivor’s Guide to Living with Urban Gulls - gives practical advice to the public, building owners and businesses on what can be done to help reduce the problem. You can see a PDF of the leaflet here: http://bit.ly/GullSurvivorGuide