Councillor urges co-operation with others on gulls

SNP COUNCILLOR Donald Morrison has given his backing for Angus Council to explore new measures in tackling the growing menace of urban seagulls in Montrose and Arbroath.

However, he has warned elected members against seeking headlines as there will be no quick fix solutions. Seagulls have nested in the coastal burghs for decades and results from any new measures would take time to take effect.

Welcoming the unanimous decision by Angus councillors to Montrose councillor Mark Salmond’s motion to ask the chief executive to being forward new measures, Mr Morrison said: “I supported Councillor Salmond’s motion in good faith as this is an issue everyone needs to work together on and the Council also needs the help of the public.

“The two main culprits, the herring and black-backed seagull, have nested on roofs and chimneys for decades because they are safer than cliff edges to rear their young.

“The young need fed and protected until they are fully independent but with more reports of noise, mess, attacks and even gulls swooping to steal food from people’s hands, this is becoming a genuine public health concern.

“The council is able to remove nests from residential premises and treat eggs but they have other options available under the current legislation including a licence for a controlled cull, but only if all reasonable non-lethal methods have been used.

“In my own ward, the annual problem of a large number of gulls nesting, screeching, etc., at the former Presentation Products building bounded by Sidney, Ernest and Palmer Streets causes a great deal of anger and nuisance for the residents and perhaps owners of empty properties should be pressed to take more responsibility.

“Other options should certainly include improvements in communication to get the message across not to feed the gulls. These could be relayed on beers mats, receipts and packaging in pubs and fast food outlets with these businesses also displaying signs and information on visitor leaflets. But the council needs more prominent signs in the busier areas and car parks. Those at Arbroath Harbour, for instance, are obscure and the gull looks more like a pelican.

“The council may have been asked to look for other options but this isn’t solely an Angus problem and I have suggested an East Coast summit be called with councils from Moray down to Fife coming together to discuss solutions at tackling the gull nuisance.

“There is no one quick fix solution in order to grab headlines, combating the growing problem of nesting urban gulls will take time but using measures to the full we can at least deter and control this species more.”

Angus is not the only area where humans are the helpless victims of gulls.

An Inverness councillor, Kenneth MacLeod, has demanded urgent action after a heavily pregnant woman was taken to hospital with head injuries after a seagull attacked her in the Longman Industrial Estate.

In the English town of Barrow a gull nested in the playground of a primary school, forcing the youngsters to abandon that part of the school grounds.

A 79-year-old man from Cornwall was left with blood pouring down his face when he was attacked by a seagull which swooped whenever he left home. Birds have built nests on his roof, and attack him and his elderly neighbour. Both have received scalp wounds. The RSPB said the gulls were protecting their nest and said the problem should disappear when the chicks have flown. The spokesman said that carrying an open umbrella whenever the gentlemen left their houses was the best advice.

The Bournenouth Echo reported attacks on a Staffordshire American bull dog cross, as the bird “repeatedly swooped” on it and its owner.