Urban gulls are an issue for many towns and cities throughout the South West. Whilst we can action situations that may attract gulls, such as poor house-keeping within premises, there is no legislation that enables the Council to control them effectively.
Update: 31 May 2016
Over 200 residents and businesses have contacted our contractor, NBC Bird and Pest Solutions to enquire about a treatment to have a gull nest or eggs removed from their roof. The technicians have been visiting premises in the designated wards of Abbey, Kingsmead, Newbridge, Twerton, Westmoreland and Widcombe to remove nests and eggs.
From today, Tuesday 31 May 2016, we are unable to register any new premises for treatments as eggs are now beginning to hatch and the terms of the General Licence issued by DEFRA does not allow for intervention with gull chicks. Any premises registered with NBC Bird and Pest Solutions prior to today will receive a visit and ongoing treatment (if possible).
Free roof treatments to remove gull nests and eggs are on offer in Bath & North East Somerset as one of many measures being taken by the Council to deter the gull problem in the area.
NBC Bird and Pest Solutions are working on behalf of the Council to remove nests for free in designated areas where evidence confirms large or increasing numbers of breeding pairs.
The work is part of a series of trial measures to deter gulls from settling in the city, for which the Council has earmarked £85,000, as part of an innovative 18 month project that was approved by the Cabinet last month as part of the Council’s new Gull Strategy.
The roof of the Bath Guildhall will be treated, and the areas which qualify for the free treatments are the wards of Abbey, Kingsmead, Newbridge, Twerton, Westmoreland and Widcombe. The programme will also target a former factory site in Midsomer Norton.
As part of the project, the Council is also working with University of the West of England and Middlesex University to carry out research into gull behaviour.
Council officers are working with behavioural ecology and psychology students at the universities to map and track the behaviour of the gulls as they interact with their food sources and nesting sites.
How do I know if I qualify for free nest and egg removal?
Residents and businesses who are in the wards of Abbey, Kingsmead, Newbridge, Twerton, Westmoreland and Widcombe will qualify for *free treatments. To check which ward you are in, please use the map above. The blue boundary defines the wards that are eligible.
What areas specifically get free nest and egg removal treatments? How have these areas been chosen?
Areas which qualify for the free treatments are: the Bath wards of Abbey, Kingsmead, Newbridge, Twerton, Westmoreland and Widcombe. The former Welton Bibby factory site in Midsomer Norton is also being treated as well as some Council owned buildings in the city centre of Bath. These locations have been chosen because evidence confirms large or increasing numbers of breeding pairs of gulls.
I live in one of the identified areas but no gulls are nesting on my property that I know of at the moment. Should I be concerned and request a visit?
Gulls will typically start nesting in mid-April so begin to start looking from April to see if you can see any nesting activity on your roof. If you do please contact NBC Bird and Pest Solutions on 0330 353 0060 or complete a web form on the Council website www.bathnes.gov.uk/ gulls
I live outside the designated areas. I know there are gulls in my area but I can’t get free nest and egg removal treatments – why not?
The Council is prioritising its funding on those areas where there is evidence of a large population of breeding pairs or where there is evidence of a significant increase in the number of breeding pairs.
What does the nest and egg removal treatment actually involve?
It involves the removal of the substantive structure of nests and any eggs through accessing your roof using a mobile platform. The contractor will firstly assess whether it is safe for the treatment to be completed and if so, continue.
If the nest is very difficult to access then it is possible that the treatment will not be able to be completed.
The contractor will not be able to carry out a complete clean of the roof; however they may be able to provide some proofing treatment at the same time which will be charged at a discounted rate. Please ask the contractor at the time of the treatment for more details.The roof will be revisited on a 21 day cycle to check if any further nests/eggs are present.
How much will this cost me?
The gull nest and egg removal treatment will be free if you live in one of the designated areas. Any further proofing treatments will be charged by the contractor at a discounted rate.
Will you be using hawks?
Yes, the contractor may use hawks to deter the gulls away from roofs whilst the treatment is being undertaken.
How much has this campaign cost?
The Council is investing £85,000 in an overall campaign which will involve roof treatments and more work with local businesses and residents to reduce access to food waste.
How will you measure the success of the campaign?
The contractor will be providing up to date information on how many treatments are being completed, how many nests are being removed and how many eggs are being removed in each area. We will also be contacting customers to gauge whether they believe improvements have been achieved for them as a result of the treatments.
How do you know this is the best way of tackling the issue?
These techniques have been used by other local authorities who have similar issues with gulls.
What harm do gulls do?
Gulls are wild animals and consequently can become aggressive especially during the breeding season.
When do they cause most problems and why?
Gulls tend to cause problems during the breeding season when they can become noisy and aggressive in protecting their young.
Is the gull population growing year on year?
The gull population in B&NES has experienced an average increase of 11 breeding pairs per year since 2012. This is a reduced growth rate from previous years (Rock, 2015).
General questions about gulls
Can you take enforcement action?
The Council is able to action issues that may attract gulls to premises such as poor waste management or housekeeping, but we are unable to take enforcement action directly for the actual presence of gulls.
All birds, eggs and their nests are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) issue a number of general licences which allow authorised persons to take or kill using certain specified methods. The 1981 Act does not allow action against birds for the prevention of damage to property or nuisance problems, i.e. noise or smell. Further information is available on DEFRA's website at www.gov.uk/wild-birds#managing-general-licence-birds .
What can you do about noise from gulls?
Gulls are particularly noisy when they are rearing their chicks as they are very protective of their nests. There is no legislation that helps us deal with noise from gulls. Unfortunately, by the time that you are being subjected to the noise there is nothing that can be done.
I have a gulls nest on my roof, is there anything you can do?
The Council has earmarked funding for free treatments to remove gull nests and eggs in designated areas and a contractor, NBC Bird and pest Solutions has been appointed to carry out this work. Further information will appear here on how these treatments can be accessed.
What can you do about accumulations of droppings?
Landowners are responsible for keeping their land free from accumulations of droppings. Therefore, gardens and possessions are the responsibility of the property owner and the Council are responsible for cleansing the highway and pavements. There is a regular schedule of street cleansing and for further information please contact:
Call on 01225 39 40 41.
Attacks from gulls
Gulls are wild birds and can be more aggressive when they have young chicks and are protecting their nests. It is recommended not to feed them and remove any potential food sources from your property.
What to do if you see a gull chick
If you see a gull chick, usually mottled brown and grey in colour, leave it alone as its parents will look after it. If the bird is injured then it may require treatment from the nearest vet or wildlife centre - for information on RSPCA wildlife centres, visit www.RSPCA.org.uk/wildlife or call us on 03001234 999.
Live gulls or other birds trapped in netting
To report live birds entangled in or trapped behind netting, please contact the RSPCA's 24 hour cruelty advice line on 03001234 999
Compensation for damage from gulls
Gulls are wild birds and the Council does not have any statutory responsibility to deal with them. For this reason the Council cannot provide compensation for any damage or nuisance or inconvenience that maybe caused by them.
What can you do?
Make sure you use your food waste recycling collection to reduce the opportunity for gulls to scavenge food from black rubbish bags. Remember to lock your food waste bin by pulling the handle forward. If you do not have a free food waste bin and/or smaller kitchen caddy please email email@example.com
Do not feed or encourage gulls by dropping food or feeding them scraps.
Dispose of litter responsibly in litter bins or take the litter home with you. Download our Don't feed the gulls leaflet for residents
Spread the word, download our 'Don't feed the Gulls' poster and display it in your window.
If you are a business read our Don't let your business feed the gulls leaflet for ideas on how your business can help.