Urban gulls and their management in Scotland: review

This report looks at the ecology of urban gulls in Scotland, the problems they cause, and management solutions.

3 Local Authority perceptions and knowledge of urban gulls in


Local Authority representatives in Scotland are at the receiving end of complaints from members of the public, and often their own Councillors, about gulls in urban areas. They have the day-to-day experience of attempting to deal with such issues in the best way that they can, and several Local Authorities in Scotland now have quite extensive experience of such problems, which we hoped to share and learn from during the study. In this chapter we discuss the results of our questionnaire survey to Local Authorities to find out:

  • The scale and geographical distribution of perceived problems with urban gulls in Scotland;
  • The nature and severity of complaints about urban gulls;
  • The extent of knowledge of Local Authorities about the distribution, numbers and trends in numbers of urban gulls in their areas;
  • Any gull management practices being operated currently or tried previously by the Local Authorities, the reasons for their choice of method(s) and their perceptions of the effectiveness of the various methods;
  • Knowledge of, and interpretation by, Local Authorities of the legislation and powers available to them for mitigating urban gull problems, their perceived effectiveness and limitations.

Details of the form and content of the questionnaire are given in Section 2.3, and the full questionnaire is provided in Appendix 1a. The questionnaire was sent to representatives from all 32 Local Authorities in Scotland and a 100% response rate was achieved. Hence we believe that the results provide a balanced and unbiased picture of the views of Local Authorities in Scotland on the issues discussed in this chapter. We have also included supplementary information gained during consultation meetings and personal communications with key experts (Section 2.2), where this is relevant to the questions addressed here.

3.1 The extent of the problem in Scotland

Our survey indicated that urban gulls are perceived as a problem by Local Authorities throughout much of Scotland. Of the 32 Local Authorities that completed the survey, 27 reported known local populations of urban gulls and 25 reported that the presence of urban gulls was perceived to be a problem by some members of the public and/or the Local Authority. No known local populations of urban gulls were reported by Perth & Kinross, South Lanarkshire, Midlothian and Clackmannanshire Councils, while Inverclyde and West Lothian Councils reported known local populations but no perceived problems.

3.2 Size and trends in urban gull populations

A total of 16 local authorities were able to provide some information on the gull species found in their urban areas: the other 12 responded that they did not know anything about their gulls or did not answer this question. Urban colonies of Herring Gulls were reported most often, and Black-headed Gulls least often (Table 3.1). The pattern is supported by the information on urban gull colonies collected during the Seabird 2000 survey (Mitchell et al. 2004; Table 3.1), despite the fact that not all Local Authorities know either which species they have present in their area or that they have gulls present.

Table 3.1 Numbers of Local Authorities reporting local urban gull populations by species and a comparison with the data available in the Joint Nature Conservation Committee's ( JNCC) Seabird 2000 database (see Chapter 4). A 'population' is recorded from the Seabird 2000 database if at least one apparently occupied nest was reported.


Number of Local Authorities


Seabird 2000 data

Herring Gull



Lesser Black Backed Gull



Common Gull



Great Black Backed Gull



Black-headed Gull



Most Local Authorities ( LAs) with species information reported two (6 LAs) or three (7 LAs) species of gull within the urban environment, with two Local Authorities reporting just one species, and one reporting all five species. Data from the Seabird 2000 survey contain records for one species in two Local Authority areas, two species in twelve areas, three species in two areas, four species in seven areas and five species in three areas.

The survey showed that few Local Authorities monitor the urban gulls within their area on a regular basis. Since 1999, Dumfries & Galloway Council has contracted an independent gull expert to conduct counts of roof-nesting Lesser Black-backed and Herring Gulls each year in Dumfries. These surveys have demonstrated an increase in breeding gull numbers there (Coulson & Coulson 1999-2003, see Chapter 4). Scottish Borders Council also makes regular counts of a particular colony in Eyemouth in an attempt to monitor the success of their control programme on breeding Herring Gulls. Their estimates involve counting nests and making corrections for the number that are missed. They have not carried out appropriate calibration counts for their method but feel that it is adequate to give an indication of trend in numbers (D. Watney, pers. comm.). Dundee City Council also carries out counts of breeding gulls in some specific areas of the city.

Of the 27 Local Authorities that reported known local populations of urban gulls, 20 felt that these had increased in their area within the last 10 years, five felt that they had not increased (in two cases this was reportedly due to control efforts), and three said that they did not know. Although few local authorities used information on gull numbers on which to base their replies (Table 3.2), perceptions of increases correspond well with the overall population changes that have been recorded between the roof-nesting gull survey in 1994 (Raven & Coulson 1997), and the Seabird 2000 survey in 1998-2002 (Mitchell et al. 2004, see Chapter 4).

Table 3.2 Information sources used by Local Authorities to assess changes in the size of local urban gull populations in their areas. Most (17 LAs) used two or more of these information types, whereas nine used one type only.

Information source

Number of Local Authorities

Previous data on local population sizes


Complaints from the public/businesses


Reports from others (see 3.3 below)


Respondents own perception


3.3 Reported problems associated with urban gulls

Of the 25 Local Authorities that perceived urban gulls as a problem in their area, complaints from the public or local businesses (reported by 23 LAs) was the most commonly referenced source of this information. Reports from others (used by 13 LAs; including colleagues, Councillors) and the general perception of the respondent (used by 12 LAs), were also used, and many respondents (17 of the 25 LAs) used more than one of these information types.

The perception of urban gulls as a problem within Local Authorities is not restricted to those areas for which high numbers of roof-nesting gulls were reported in the most recent gull survey (Seabird 2000; Mitchell et al. 2004). Problems associated with urban gulls were reported from Local Authorities areas where no roof-nesting gull colonies were recorded during the Seabird 2000 survey, whilst not all Local Authorities with roof-nesting gulls present perceive the gulls as a problem (Figure 3.1).

In the questionnaire, we asked for information on the frequency and severity of any urban gull problems experienced by Local Authorities. From previous discussions with their representatives and the Scottish Executive, we provided a list of possible problems: noise, fouling (from droppings), littering ( e.g. tearing up black bin bags to reach food or removing litter from rubbish bins), damage to property, aggressive behaviour, bird strikes (to aircraft), risk of disease transmission, impacts on other wildlife. We also provided a text box for to allow respondents to list any other problems. Some problems might occur far less frequently than others but be seen as more severe when they do occur, whilst others might be viewed as more trivial but occur much more regularly. For this reason, we asked respondents first about the frequency of particular incidents (from 1 to 5, where 1 = no incidents and 5 = many incidents) and then about the severity of problems (from 0 to 5, where 0 = no incidents, 1 = minor incidents and 5 = severe incidents).

Figure 31.

Figure 3.1
Combined numbers of Apparently Occupied Nests ( AONs) of all roof-nesting gull species in each Local Authority area throughout Scotland (Source: JNCC data, see Chapter 4). Local Authorities in black are those that reported problems associated with urban gulls; those in grey reported no urban gull problems. Note that these figures do not take the geographical size of LAs or their human population into account.

The aggressive behaviour of gulls during the nesting season scored highest both in the frequency and the severity of the incidents or complaints, with noise, littering and fouling making up the next three highest scoring problems (Figure 3.2a & b). Out of the set of potential problems given, 11 Local Authorities scored aggressive behaviour the highest in terms of frequency and gave a score of four or five (for four LAs, this highest score was shared with fouling or noise). This pattern was repeated with the scores for severity. Twelve Local Authorities scored aggressive behaviour the highest in terms of severity and gave a score of four or five (for six LAs this highest score was shared with noise, fouling or littering). As gulls may behave aggressively during the nesting season in order to protect their eggs or chicks, it is not surprising that Local Authorities reported that problems associated with urban gulls occur largely during summer (21 out of 26 Local authorities). A restricted number of Local Authorities also have problems relating to noise and littering during the winter months.

Figure 3.2

Figure 3.2
The average (median) and range of scores for each potential problem associated with urban gulls in terms of (a) frequency and (b) severity. The lower and upper boundaries of the boxes are the 25 th and 75 th percentiles respectively. The error bars above and below the boxes indicate the 90th and 10th percentiles.

Most Local Authorities that reported problems with urban gulls felt that the problems had increased over the last 10 years, reflecting the local increases in gull population size (Section 3.2 above). When asked what factors they thought had led to any that changes they perceived in numbers of urban gulls and any associated problems in their areas, the replies of the Local Authorities could be split broadly into (i) changes in food availability ( e.g. reduced fishing activity at traditional nesting/feeding grounds, people feeding gulls, littering and poor waste storage, availability of landfill sites) and (ii) changes in the availability of nest sites, such that some urban sites provide very suitable nest sites for gulls ( i.e. secure from predators, warm, sheltered and undisturbed by humans).

During further discussions with Local Authority representatives (Section 2.2), it became apparent that members of the public feeding gulls was a widespread activity and was felt by some to be a contributory factor in problems associated with urban gulls. Many participants also agreed that street litter had increased in recent years ( e.g. from fast-food outlets and after-pub activities) and that this increased the amount of food available to gulls. In certain areas, such as Aberdeen and Dumfries, the opposite was felt to be true, however, due to extensive measures put in place by these Local Authorities to reduce litter on the streets. The only existing study of the foraging behaviour of urban gulls in Scotland suggests that in Dumfries the majority of the urban-nesting Lesser Black-backed Gulls forage outside the urban area (see Section 5.5), and hence that the availability of suitable nesting sites is believed to be an important factor for attracting and retaining gulls in Dumfries.

Fifteen of the 25 Local Authorities reporting gull problems said that they had a system for monitoring and collating data on complaints in relation to urban gulls, and some can provide counts to support their assertion that complaints have risen ( e.g. Dundee City Council).

3.4 Mitigation methods used by Local Authorities and perceived effectiveness

A diverse array of techniques has been used to try to reduce problems associated with urban gulls (these, and any existing scientific evidence for their effectiveness, are reviewed in Chapter 6). Respondents to our questionnaire were asked to select from a list of possible mitigation measures (i) which, if any, the Local Authority used currently in an attempt to control gull numbers, (ii) any that it had tried previously, and (iii) of the methods of which it had direct experience, which, if any, were felt to be effective (Table 3.3). They were also provided with space to detail any other techniques that they used that were not on the list provided.

The two forms of mitigation used most commonly by Local Authorities currently are egg/nest removal and the proofing of buildings through netting (Table 3.3). Several Local Authorities carry out proofing and nest removal on Council-owned buildings because of obligations under health and safety at work legislation but state that they have no statutory obligation or budget to pay for these activities on privately owned buildings. The costs of any proofing and nest-removal work are incurred by the private owners of individual buildings. Some Local Authorities give advice on this (e.g. South Ayrshire: http://www.south-ayrshire.gov.uk/environmentalhealth/pc-gulls.htm; see also remarks on local guidance in Chapter 8) or refer enquiries of this nature to specialist companies that carry out gull control work. Borders LA previously ran a scheme to provide 90% grants to building owners to proof their houses against gulls but found that the take up was very low (D. Watney, pers. comm.). In response to rising numbers of complaints about gulls from members of the public, in 2004 Cardiff City Council approved a proposal to provide an 'egg sterisilation service', whereby the Council would undertake the oiling of gull eggs for a fee (providing that certain conditions were met). The documents relating to this proposal and discussions therein are available at:

  1. http://www.cardiff.gov.uk/Government/english/Cabinet_Papers/04_01_08_Cab/Reports/publiccab8Jan04Roof%20Nesting%20Gulls%20in%20Cardiff.pdf
  2. http://www.cardiff.gov.uk/government/english/council_papers/Environmental_Scrutiny/04_02_02_env/Reports/Gull_Call_In_covering_report.pdf
  3. http://www.cardiff.gov.uk/scrutiny/pdf/gulls.pdf
  4. http://www.cardiff.gov.uk/government/english/council_papers/Environmental_Scrutiny/04_03_16_env/Reports/gulls.pdf

Bath & North East Somerset also have an ongoing experimental egg oiling programme, which is available to owners of properties with large, flat, accessible roofs, and is aimed at reducing gull activity, the associated noise and aggressive behaviour, and, potentially, the number of birds (see http://www.bathnes.gov.uk/BathNES/environment/animalsandpests/Pests/Gulls.htm).

Table 3.3 Mitigation techniques that have been used by Scottish Local Authorities to try to reduce problems associated with urban gulls. Local Authorities were asked to tick those methods that they used currently (column 2) or had tried previously (column 3). Eighteen Local Authorities also indicated the methods that they felt to be effective from those that they use currently or had used previously. Note that no supporting data was provided to underpin perceptions of effectiveness. Aberdeen City Council also included the production of a leaflet to deter the public from feeding gulls and felt that this could be effective (see http://www.aberdeencity.gov.uk/acc_data/publication/gulls%20a5.pdf).


Used currently

Tried previously but rejected

Perceived as effective

Lethal control of adults/chicks




Egg/nest destruction

Nest and/or egg removal




Egg oiling




Egg substitution




Egg pricking




Prevention techniques

Proofing of nesting sites




Broadcasting calls




Falconry (live birds of prey)




Plastic/stuffed birds (effigies)




Springs and wires




Mechanical scarers




Egg/nest removal and the proofing of buildings were also the measures that were thought to be effective in reducing the problems associated with urban gulls by the largest numbers of Local Authorities, although none have rigorous counts of gulls to support these perceptions. However, it was agreed during discussions that whilst proofing a particular building can be very effective in preventing nesting on that building, it may result in the problem simply being moved elsewhere. It was also agreed that whilst nest and egg removal can be effective at reducing specific problems associated with aggressive behaviour, and can reduce nesting gull numbers within particular areas, this technique requires long-term commitment, as gull numbers are likely to increase again if nest and egg removal is abandoned (see also Section 6.4). Roof 'wires' and other similar forms of deterrent ( e.g. springs and wires in Table 3.3) were only considered effective by two Local Authorities, but it was noted during discussions that their effectiveness is very dependent on their detailed design and positioning, and that these need to be carried out by appropriately trained staff: in some cases, it may appear that a particular method has not been effective but this observed outcome may actually be due to incorrect application of the technique.

Although falconry using live birds of prey was included in the questionnaire survey as a single category of mitigation technique, it became clear during subsequent discussions with Local Authorities and falconers that large differences exist between the different bird of prey species (or hybrids) that can be used in different situations and this is likely to determine the effectiveness or not of this technique (see Section 6.1.2).

During discussions of mitigation options with Local Authorities, it was acknowledged widely that some pest control firms carrying out such work are better than others in the view of those that have experience of their work. It was suggested that training programmes to pass on best practice to those involved in the hands-on control would be beneficial.

Local Authorities based their appraisal of the effectiveness of the mitigation techniques largely on the general perception of the respondent (15 LAs) or reductions in the number of complaints (13 LAs), although reductions in the numbers of gulls counted were also used by some (9 LAs). The counts that were carried out do not necessarily constitute the type of monitoring that might be required for a rigorous test of the effectiveness of the different methods (see Chapter 8), however, as they may be focussed on very specific areas ( i.e. one or two buildings) and may provide oa measure of the short-term effect of mitigation only. Five Local Authorities used one of these criteria (mainly perception) for assessing effectiveness but most (15 LAs) used at least two of these criteria. Local Authority representatives kindly provided us with the contact details for several external contractors with experience in gull control and/or preventative methods. As far as possible, these contacts were followed up in order to determine whether more detailed information on the effectiveness of particular techniques was available. Although we received useful qualitative information from these contacts on application of certain techniques and the problems associated with them, these consultations revealed little documented evidence of the effectiveness or otherwise of the different techniques (see Chapter 6).

Respondents to the survey were asked to indicate the factors that had influenced their Local Authority's choice of mitigation technique(s). We provided a list of possible factors and asked respondents to rank the importance of each factor from 1 to 5 (where 1 = not important to 5 = very important; Table 3.4). Respondents were also able to supply any additional criteria that influenced choice in a text box.

Table 3.4 Average rankings (from a possible range of 1 to 5) attributed the criteria used to select techniques to mitigate against urban gull problems by the 15 Scottish Local Authorities that provided a response. Additionally, two Local Authorities gave the safety of staff carrying out any mitigation work a ranking of 5, and one Local Authority gave the "manpower required to carry out the work" a ranking of 3.


Average (median) ranking
(25% and 75% percentiles)

Perceived effectiveness

5 (5, 5)

Licensing requirements

5 (2, 5)


4 (3, 5)

Ease of application

4 (3, 4)

All of the possible factors that were listed in the questionnaire were considered important by Scottish Local Authorities, with effectiveness and licensing requirements receiving the highest score (Table 3.4).

3.5 Waste strategies

Respondents to the survey were asked whether the current waste strategy employed by their Local Authority contained measures that might help reduce problems associated with urban gulls. A total of 21 Local Authorities answered this question. The use of wheelie bins or other refuse protection was cited by 15 Local Authorities, as well as proofing and/or gull deterrents at landfill sites (10 LAs), the use of gull-proof litter bins (6 LAs), education and enforcement measures such as the production of "no gull feeding" leaflets and litter wardens (5 LAs), and improved refuse storage at storage and transfer stations (4 LAs).

During subsequent discussions (Section 2.2), there was a lack of consensus over whether the introduction of wheelie bins had reduced urban gull problems. Whilst some Local Authority representatives felt that the introduction of wheelie bins had helped reduce gull problems in their area, other areas were cited where wheelie bins were introduced 15 years ago but urban gull problems had still increased. The baling of waste at landfill sites was also thought to have reduced the numbers of gulls at a number of sites around Glasgow (I. Gibson, pers. comm.), and some landfill sites now cover waste with topsoil at the end of each day to try to reduce the numbers of foraging gulls.

3.6 Legislation and powers

A total of 15 Scottish Local Authorities provided responses to the questionnaire that included information on how they felt that legislation could be introduced, strengthened and/or clarified to allow them to reduce the problems associated with urban gulls. These can be summarised under the following five broad categories:

  • Clarification of the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981

Although there is a General Licence available in Scotland for the removal of some gull species and their nests in the interests of public health and safety (Chapter 7), each user must satisfy the licence requirements that there is a threat to public health and safety and that all other possible solutions have been tried. Differences in the interpretation of what constitute risks to public health and safety, mean that some Local Authorities are very cautious in their interpretation and conduct no gull control work that requires licensing, while others interpret the Act more liberally. During discussions held as part of this project (Section 2.2), it was explained by the Scottish Executive that the European Union ( EU) will not give Member States explicit guidance on interpretation of the EU law underpinning the national legislation that is in place (in this case, for example, the 1979 EU Birds Directive, see Chapter 7) but rather takes the approach of following up any cases in which it is felt that the legislation is used in an inappropriate manner. The Scottish Executive (in common with all similar such bodies) is therefore in a difficult position in respect of the level of guidance that can be offered regarding interpretation of the legislation ( e.g. to a Local Authority).

  • Extension of the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981

Given the lack of consensus over what constitutes a risk to "public health and safety" (see section 7.4), many respondents wanted to see the problems associated with urban gulls, such as noise, fouling and damage to property specifically given as a valid reason to control within the conditions of the General Licence (note that this would require a change to the underpinning EU legislation that allows derogations for certain specific purposes; see section 7.1).

  • Ability to enforce nest removal/proofing of buildings/new building designs

As nest removal and the proofing of buildings may result in gulls simply moving to other buildings, several respondents suggested that, within particular problem areas, Local Authorities should have the power to force property owners to proof buildings or remove nests. If owners were unwilling to organise this themselves, they felt that appropriate powers should be available to allow the Local Authority to gain access, carry out the appropriate work and charge the costs to the owners. During follow up discussions it was recognised that there might be difficulties in enforcing any such powers however ( e.g. due to access issues, Health & Safety considerations for Local Authority staff, risks of damage costs). Some Local Authorities also sought clarification on whether enforcement of gull-proofing on new buildings under planning legislation is permissible (see section 7.3).

  • Ability to deal with persistent bird feeders

In some Local Authority areas, there are clearly particular individuals that are well-known to Local Authority staff, who feed very large amounts of food that attracts large numbers of birds, such as gulls and pigeons, and also rats and other potential pests. This was raised by several Local Authorities in their responses to the survey and was followed by more detailed discussions during consultations (Section 2.2). There were differing opinions expressed as to how those members of the public who feed gulls (and other birds) persistently should be dealt with ( i.e. persuasion via personal contact and 'education', leaflet campaigns, or the need for legal enforcement). Some participants felt that in their area, personal persuasion and the production of "no feeding" leaflets had reduced the numbers of persistent feeders, whilst others felt that such strategies had little or no effect and that enforcement measures were required.

  • Reduction of legal protection for gulls

Few Local Authority representatives advocated that a wide-scale cull of gulls was required in Scotland (a couple did, and some consultees suggested that a national 'strategy' for dealing with urban gull problems would be useful). There was concern expressed by a few respondents, however, at the level of legal protection afforded to gulls in Scotland. Some felt that the legislation, as it is stands currently, is out of date, given the recent observed changes in gull populations and the behaviour of gulls in urban areas.

Local authorities are empowered to make byelaws (subject to Scottish Ministers' consent) for the prevention and suppression of any nuisances, and in response to particular local needs. In the survey, respondents were asked whether their Local Authority had introduced any byelaws in response to urban gull problems. No Local Authority has done so, however, and later discussions indicated that Local Authority representatives felt that byelaws should be used to deal with very specific problems, whereas they felt that the problems caused by urban gulls were sufficiently widespread to warrant a national-scale legislative approach.

3.7 Other suggestions from Local Authorities regarding solutions

Some consultees at the open meeting (Section 2.2) felt that a national campaign to educate the public about gulls in urban areas would be beneficial. This could include information on problems associated with littering, why excessive feeding in public places is not beneficial (to gulls, humans and other biodiversity interests) and explanation of some relevant gull behaviour, such as why gulls are aggressive during the breeding season. It was felt by some that if the public understood the issues better, they might take a more responsible approach in urban areas. Few consultees seemed to indicate that this was a bad idea but the majority appeared to be of the opinion that such a campaign would only be successful in mitigating urban gull problems if used in conjunction with direct control of some form.

Several Local Authorities mentioned that they require targeted financial assistance to allow them to carry out gull control work themselves or persuade private individuals ( e.g. home-owners, businesses) to do the work, including the proofing of buildings.

3.8 Gull mitigation measures undertaken by Wellpark Action Group

As part of the current project, we visited two members of Wellpark Action Group, a group of residents from a housing estate in Kilmarnock who had got together to take action against perceived urban gull problems in a way that they feel has been successful for them. This section gives a short description of the Wellpark project, as an example of the way in which a local community has dealt with a colony of gulls that was perceived as a problem to residents.

In 2002, breeding Lesser Black-backed Gulls became perceived as a problem on the Wellpark residential estate in Kilmarnock because they were showing aggressive behaviour directed at vulnerable elderly people, people on motorbikes and even dogs (Iain Boyd and Jane Overton, Wellpark Action Group, pers. comm.). Noise (particularly before dawn) was also a problem for residents, as were the copious gull droppings on cars and other possessions. The Wellpark Action Group ( WAG) already existed (formed previously to address traffic problems on the estate) and the members decided to reform in an attempt to tackle the perceived gull problems. The residents of the estate were accused by some of leaving litter around the estate that was attracting the gulls but the residents felt that the estate was not littered and the nearest fast food outlets were more than a quarter of a mile away. WAG feel that their estate was favoured by the gulls because of its location on a hill, with views over the surrounding landscape and exposure to the prevailing south-westerly winds. The houses are also of a style that the gulls seem to like: with chimney 'valleys' in which the nests can be built. Gulls have nested both on two-story houses and bungalows within the estate. Within the Kilmarnock area, there are other breeding gulls on some estates (these also tend to be the ones on hills overlooking the town; WAG pers. comm.) and on flat roofs (disused factories by the river and on the Council buildings (an old school). Milton landfill site (about 2-3 miles away up the Irvine Valley towards Galston) closed three to four years ago, which may have reduced the food available for the gulls there. The other tip locally is at Stewarton (six to seven miles away). WAG believe that food refuse on the streets in Kilmarnock has got worse, particularly from school children and late-night pub-goers. They feel that there is the need for a school education campaign.

WAG tried to arrange the use of a falconer with a hawk but an insufficient number of residents would 'buy in' and the Council's position was that the residents were owner-occupiers and should therefore fund any action themselves. WAG also tried the use of plastic owls and found that they had no effect at all. Hence WAG sorted out details of pest control contractors and made their cards available to all relevant residents, suggesting that they got him to remove nests/eggs and place deterrent flexible plastic spikes on the roofs. Spikes were put in place in 2003 on most affected houses (approximate cost for a pair of semi-detached houses was £90-100 for nest removal and proofing work). WAG has observed that the spikes have not been successful in all cases and must be placed in specific areas around chimneys and on the apex of some roofs. Now about one-fifth of houses have proofing (spikes) on key nesting places. The work that has been carried out appears to have broken the cycle of breeding success and recruitment on the estate, however, such that the numbers of breeding gulls there have been substantially reduced ( WAG, pers. comm.).

The action taken by WAG appears to have been successful in reducing the problems associated with breeding urban gulls in the particular context of that specific residential area, although WAG acknowledge the fact that the gulls will have moved away to breed and potentially cause similar perceived problems elsewhere. Residents of the estate are now waiting to see whether the effects of their action will be sufficient to deter gulls from breeding on the estate in the longer-term (J. Overton, pers. comm.).

3.9 Costs of urban gull problems to Local Authorities

Respondents to our questionnaire survey were asked about the expenditure of their Local Authority on problems associated with urban gulls. No quantitative estimates of overall expenditure were provided (Scottish Borders Council stated that their annual egg oiling programme cost c.£1000). It was noted during subsequent discussions with Local Authority representatives that very few Local Authorities allocate a discrete budget specifically for gull control work, tasks relating to perceived gull problems (e.g. cleaning, pest control, advice etc) were often split between different council departments, and some of the actions taken were not necessarily solely to remedy gull problems, such that providing estimates of overall expenditure is currently difficult for most Local Authorities.


Email: Central Enquiries Unit ceu@gov.scot

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