Gull problems are now becoming “intolerable”

THE CHAIRWOMAN of a local charity has added her voice to calls for action to be taken to control seagull numbers in Montrose.

Kathleen Ritchie, from Montrose Area Furniture Recycling and Distribution and a former Angus councillor, said this week that the situation at the charity’s Lower Balmain Street warehouse has become “intolerable”.

The group, which allocates donated furniture to those in need, has been trying for more than two weeks to carry out necessary repairs to the building’s roof, but gulls from neighbouring properties have been attacking anyone who ventured out to do so.

They eventually had to resort to sending three people up, one to carry out the work and two others equipped with home-made flags to scare off any gulls which tried to attack.

Mrs Ritchie said: “We’ve been trying for two weeks but it’s been impossible. Angus Council won’t do anything about it because they’re coming from commercial premises and have nesting chicks.

“Angus Council could still do something about it, and apply for a licence to deal with them. Legally they can do that.

“When I was a councillor we went through a phase of egg-pricking so I can’t see why the council can’t get a licence to do the same again. It’s becoming intolerable.”

The damaged roof has resulted in part of the warehouse being flooded although, despite water damage to one bed, the group’s stock has escaped more or less unscathed.

Mrs Ritchie added: “It’s ludicrous that people are being attacked and can’t go about their daily business and I think it’s time for the council to act now, as long as they can prove that they’ve done everything else to take reasonable measures to keep the gulls at bay. If they have and it hasn’t worked, they can apply for a licence to carry out a cull.”

Local councillor Mark Salmond, along with Arbroath councillor David Fairweather, has already met with council chief executive Richard Stiff to discuss measure the authority could take to cut down on gull-related problems.

The council runs a free egg and nest removal service for members of the public and Mr Salmond said he has requested that Mr Stiff to consider how this scheme could be extended to include smaller commercial properties.

Advice issued by the council states that only an owner or occupier can take action against gulls nesting on their buildings, or permission can be given to a third to act on their behalf.

Any action taken must be justified in terms of the General Licences made under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and can include culling, nest removal, egg removal, disturbance of birds and proofing. Any action taken must be humane.

Tenants affected by nesting gulls should discuss the matter with their landlord prior to taking any action.

The council offers its free-of-charge nest and egg removal service to householders or tenants during the period when gulls are typically building nests or have eggs in a nest, although this is not currently available for commercial premises.

Where there are “prolonged and persistent” physical attacks by adult birds, although chicks cannot usually be disturbed after hatching, exceptional circumstances may provide grounds for action to be taken.

Anyone who believes they may meet conditions where chicks may be culled should contact the council’s Environmental Health Service via its Accessline on 08452 777 778. Following the report a member of the council’s Environmental Heath Service will carry out an assessment of individual situations.