Aberdeenshire Council is aiming to help its communities give problem seagulls the bird with a new project starting this spring.
The council have a five-year plan to tackle the problems caused by gulls, which can be seen attacking people for food in some town centres.
Seagulls were a particular issue last year in Stonehaven, with the Leader office being inundated with complaints about problems caused by the birds.
As part of the long-term project, a Seagull Survivor’s Guide has been produced, to provide information on what can be done about the issue.
Problems include: Noise - raucous calls and squabbling start at dawn and go on all day; Mess caused by droppings, and the litter strewn from bins as they scavenge; Damage to property and corrosion of vehicles; Attacks on people and pets.
An Aberdeenshire Council press release said this week: “There is no quick fix and control measures need to be kept up for several years to be effective. The key lies in reducing the birds’ ability to breed successfully and limiting the supply of food.
“The Council does not advocate the killing/culling of gulls or their young. The focus is on deterrents, preventative measures and on nest and egg removal, which will have a lasting effect on the gull population.
“Council services, including environmental health, property, housing and waste have come together to develop the plan to work together with communities to improve the situation.“
While the Council has no statutory duty to take action against gulls, it does recognise the need to protect communities. However, it cannot do this alone, and said everyone has a role to play in preventing problems.
Chairman of Aberdeenshire Council’s Infrastructure Services Committee (ISC), Peter Argyle, said: “Life in town is easy for the birds; some people deliberately feed them and discarded food provides a feast. Our roofs are warm and chimneys provide shelter.
“The best approach is to take action to deter nesting, but the Council has no legal powers to force owners to carry out preventative works nor to undertake treatment during nesting.
“We are reliant on the cooperation of owners and occupiers to firstly recognise the issue and then to take appropriate steps as early as possible.”
Aberdeenshire Council has a preferred contractor arrangement with Pro-Check Environmental Services (Northern) Ltd who will carry out works to deter problem gulls nesting on domestic, commercial and industrial buildings. Preferential rates have been negotiated for all property occupiers and owners in Aberdeenshire. They will also carry out nest and egg removal.
ISC vice chair, Alan S. Buchan, said: “It will not be easy to change some behaviour, such as littering and feeding gulls, or to persuade landlords and property owners they should spend money to tackle the birds.
“The Council has limited financial resources available to deal with this issue but it will provide advice and support wherever possible and is keen to work alongside communities.”
The Seagull Survival Guide is being made available in communities and is also available online at: http://www.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/environmental/SeagullNuisanceleaflet.pdf