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Information and advice on dealing with seagulls

herring gull

Report a seagull attack

Please comple the online form to report a seagull attack or to let us know if they are becoming a nuisance.

Seagull species in Wyre

The species of particular concern in Wyre are the Herring Gull (Larus argentatus) but also to a lesser extent the Lesser Black Backed Gull (Larus fuscus) and Greater Black Backed Gull (Larus marinus).

The issues

During the breeding season, but particularly during the months of July and August reports of attacks on members of the public increase. Brought about by the current year’s breeding cycle, the adults take it upon themselves to protect their young who have just hatched, by swooping down upon anyone they perceive as a threat. Between 2010 and 2016 Wyre Council received 49 reports of such incidents.

Research has shown that seagulls are having larger broods than they are traditionally, probably due to the lack of predators and the advantages of food close by. Gulls often live for between 25-30 years and this, combined with increases in brood size, has caused an increase in the seagull population.

The Clean Air Act of 1956 banned the burning of rubbish and led to an increase in open landfill sites around the country. This plentiful food supply helped move the gulls from traditional coastal areas inland where open bins and fast food pinched from unsuspecting members of the public was also added to their food supply. The new chicks learn the imprint of their place of birth and will exploit the advantages accordingly. Research has shown an increase in gulls in towns which is estimated at having doubled in the last 20 years.

Noise pollution by gulls can also be an issue, where once this was any time after 4am changes in habits have taught these birds to increase their activity throughout the night which in turn reduces the likelihood of a good night’s sleep for residents. Research suggests that the noise from gulls is moderate during courtship but greatest once chicks have hatched.

Seagull excrement contains high levels of bacteria, much higher than treated human waste. Some suggest that the excrement from the ever increasing seagull population may also have an impact on local bathing water quality. In order to reduce that impact, Wyre Council are asking residents and visitors not to feed the seagulls as part of a Love my Beach campaign.

Property damage caused by gulls should also be considered. From blocked gutters caused by the fouling which can lead to water ingress into the building, to damaged rooftops where insulation surrounding pipes and air conditioning systems has been severely damaged and even reports of lead being ripped up. These hidden costs are difficult to evaluate.

Damage to cars and glass atriums of offices and shopping centres should also not be forgotten (sometimes being caused by roof pebbles picked up and dropped from a height by the male gulls).

The law

Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981 all birds are protected. There are some situations where species may be controlled or culled but this is unlikely in a domestic seagull situation. Instead we would suggest the public do not feed the birds, and to keep all litter and waste covered to reduce the attraction. Wyre Council will remind people of these important messages using signage in prominent areas and social media. In addition, where possible, proofing methods should be employed on affected buildings to limit gull activity.

Bird proofing systems

Whilst the council itself does not provide a bird proofing service we have outlined below some of the options available:

Bird netting or mesh - of all the systems bird netting/mesh would be the first choice for consideration. This is because when professionally fitted it forms a barrier that denies the birds both a nesting and roosting site.

In particular the bird net system should be considered for all flat roof areas and rooflines whilst the mesh can be used for smaller areas such as chimney stacks.

Polyethylene 50 mm netting for pigeons, and 75mm for gulls, is commonly used to enclose all roof areas. The netting is attached to either a stainless steel or galvanised support system consisting of corner and intermediate fixings which support a 2mm wire rope, tensioned up with barrel strainers. The netting is then attached by hog rings to every mesh of the netting to deny future ingress.

Avishock electrical system - this flexible track system is powered by an energiser providing an output at source of 5.5kv which powers two copper strips laid beneath a conductive plastic cover on the track.

This system will deny the roosting on ledges of any bird species and has been effectively used in the UK over the last eight years and conforms to relative bird legislation such as the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.  

This system could be considered for the parapets where two rows should be installed to deter both gull and pigeon activity. Having been used both in the USA for the last 12 years and now the UK, it is proving to be a system that can be relied on in professional bird control.

Other ledge products

Bird spikes - these are available for the control of either pigeons or gulls. They are attached to the ledge with a silicon adhesive applied in rows as required.

Chimney spike system - fixed to the top of a chimney stack, or where the stack meets the pitch of a roof, in order to deny nesting by gull species.

Chimney mesh cover - using galvanized mesh, these are made on site to suit. They exclude the gulls from nesting.

Bird wire system - this system is only recommended for the control of gulls and pigeons in light pressure situations, although it is a very useful system when installed on ridges of roof areas. For window sills and ledges there have been examples where pigeons have learnt to overcome this system.

Other option

Distress call system - this system is used to disperse birds away from an area. By providing a random distress call of the affected species, the birds quickly learn that the area is hostile to their presence. Unfortunately this sometimes does not last long as the birds quickly learn that the distress calls will not harm them. As noted, in the short term these systems offer some control, however after a very short while the birds will habituate to the distress calls.

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