THE SURPRISE news that since 2011 some gulls which have been identified as a definite danger to the public have been culled, was revealed to Montrose Community Council on Thursday.
Although no mention was made of location or numbers, Angus Council’s expert, Mr Stewart Ball, told startled members that this power, held by Angus Council but thought never to have been invoked, had indeed been used on a small number of occasions.
Mr Ball then explained why a mass cull of birds would not be feasible - for two reasons.
He said that one problem is the easy availability of food - which is provided, certainly in the centre of town where the problem is at its height, almost exclusively by humans.
Putting it bluntly, he said: “You could cull a hundred, and another hundred would take their places - as long as there’s the food for them.”
The difficulty is compounded because, globally, the population of these birds is diminishing, and if Angus Council was to indulge in mass slaughter their existing licence to cull would be withdrawn.
Mr Ball emphasised that authority’s powers are limited, particularly without the wholehearted co-operation of the public.
He conceded that there are people who take pleasure out of feeding gulls and no amount of persuasion will stop them.
Mr Ball said that at certain times of year the council ‘phone is red-hot with complaints about gulls’ anti-social behaviour.
However, it in the run-up to the fledging of chicks that Angus Council takes action, which it does to a large extent.
Birds of prey are used in February when nests are being built, in an effort to deter the gulls from town centre locations.
The main thrust, however, is in the nest and egg removal service, which runs from the end of March.
This service is well advertised each year, and can also be obtained by calling the ACCESSline.
About 100 were removed from Montrose in 2012. Councillor Sandy Munro asked what the success rate was, and was told 100 per cent.
Pricking and oiling eggs can work, but some birds just lay another.
Councillors agreed that constant efforts must be made to reduce the amount of food that mainly human adults provide, in one way or another, that attracts the gulls.