Information on plans to tackle gull menace

Seagulls
Seagulls

A public information day is being held in Whitby and Scarborough today to inform local residents and visitors to the area about a Herring Gull disruption and dispersal programme due to start the following week.

NBC Environment, the company that will carry out the programme on behalf of Scarborough Borough Council, will pitch up at Dock End in Whitby between 9.30am and noon and in Scarborough near the old police box on Sandside between 2pm and 4.30pm.

Staff will be on hand to explain what the programme will involve and the strict legislation they will be working under. People will also be able to meet some of the birds of prey that will be used to deter and scare away gulls as part of the programme. Representatives from Scarborough Borough Council will attend the events to offer advice and talk about the other measures they are employing to reduce the nuisance caused by gulls, including education around the importance of not feeding them.

The one-year trial disruption and dispersal programme, which was agreed by borough councillors earlier this month, will focus on seafront and town centre locations in Scarborough and Whitby, where evidence has shown that nuisance from Herring Gulls is at its worst. It will involve the removal of herring gull eggs and nests from buildings in the selected areas and the use of birds of prey such as Harris Hawks and Falcons as deterrents.

The programme is the latest measure employed by the council in a bid to combat the problems associated with gulls, widely reported in the press and media and also directly to the council’s Environmental Health team. In recent years, evidence has shown an increase in the number of attacks on people by the familiar seaside birds as they swoop down on their victims for food, particularly when rearing their young chicks.

Steve Owen, NBC Environment Regional Sales Manager said:

“As we’ve seen during recent months and years, Herring Gulls have become a problem bird during prime tourist season in Scarborough and Whitby. I should stress there’s nothing wrong or unnatural with the gulls’ behaviour, they’re just being good parents. However, when they come into conflict with humans this becomes an issue.

“Gulls tend to return to the same nesting sites each year and with their offspring in tow, so the issue will become incrementally worse unless action is taken to move the birds to more appropriate areas outside of town. Herring Gulls have amber protected status and we’re not out to harm them in any way. Instead, we aim to modify their behaviour through the use of non-lethal falconry. The presence of predator species is enough; gulls are intelligent birds and will not settle in an area where they think there’s an active population of raptors.”

Cllr Bill Chatt, Scarborough Borough Council Cabinet Member for Public Health and Housing said:

“This is a chance for people to come along and find out exactly what the programme is all about and importantly, learn about how changing our own behaviour can make a positive difference. These measures aren’t about changing the traditional image of the seaside; they’re about trying to achieve a more manageable situation where gulls and humans can live more contentedly side by side.”