CULLING the gull population to control the nuisance created in the county’s burghs would be a last resort, councillors have been told.
For a cull to go ahead, Angus Council would have to prove that all other means of control open to it had been tried and exhausted and that the birds posed a threat to public health or safety. In a report to the full council today (Thursday), chief executive Richard Stiff also pointed out that the usual methods of control are by shooting or netting and neck-wringing which would be likely to attract criticism.
He said: “Neither is a particularly effective means of population reduction, and both are likely to attract adverse criticism from the public and wildlife pressure groups. It is unlikely that a clear link to public health could be demonstrated.
“It should be noted that the herring gull is on the ‘amber’ list in Scotland, ie the population level is a cause for concern, and that the general licence issued in England no longer permits the culling of this species.”
The report has been produced in response to complaints from the public throughout the spring and summer about the continuing problems with gulls including noise, mess from droppings, property damage and aggressive behaviour.
Contraception, by using baited food, has been put forward as a solution but has been ruled out as there are no licensed products available for use in the UK, although the number of nesting sites could be reduced by changing planning requirements for the pitch of roofs. Fewer flat roofs would mean fewer attractive nesting sites.
Mr Stiff added that better waste management would also act as a deterrent, by issuing “gull-proof” rubbish sacks and stricter enforcement of littering legislation.
He said: “In areas where white sacks rather than wheeled bins are provided to residents, there is a possibility that easier access to household waste may attract gulls. This could be reduced by the introduction of gull-proof waste bags as are already in use in a small number councils.
“There would be significant cost associated with this development but their use in specific areas may be beneficial.”
Mr Stiff also suggested that the council’s existing nest removal service could be extended, free of charge, to include smaller business premises if gulls nesting on their property were a nuisance to near neighbours. While the authority is currently unable to remove nests from council houses without the tenant’s permission, he added that this clause could be removed in relation to future tenancies.
He said: “A more proactive campaign with larger employers and organisations to encourage them to pay greater attention to roof nesting birds might also pay dividends.”