Seagulls

Seagulls are an important part of our local ecology however on some occasions they can pose a nuisance to local people and potentially damage property.  Damage includes blocked roof gutters and broken roof tiles / slates.

During the nesting season (April – June), seagulls also naturally become protective to their nests and offspring.

However, all British birds, their nests and eggs (with certain exceptions) are protected under section 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended).  Exceptions under section 1 apply to so-called 'pest' species. 

Exceptions under section 1 extend to;

  • Greater black-backed gull (Larus marinus)
  • Lesser black-backed gull (Larus fuscus)
  • Herring Gull (Larus argentatus)

There are two other common species, which cannot be controlled, as they are protected under the Act.  Before controlled measures are taken there must be ability to distinguish between the exception and protected species.  A licensed contractor should be able to provide this service.

Authorised persons (licensed contractors) are permitted to kill or take the pest species and to destroy or take their nests or eggs, provided it can be shown that the measures are to protect public health or safety; or to prevent the spread of disease (e.g. Salmonella). 

Care needs to be taken to ensure the control measures are really needed.  Under European legislation, there is a requirement to demonstrate that there is a likelihood of serious damage before any action is taken to remove birds. European legislation also requires non-lethal measures to be considered.  Nuisance (such as noise) or damage to property are not legitimate reasons to kill gulls. 

It is always preferable to discourage gulls from nesting on a roof than to destroy the nests once the birds have started breeding. This can be done in many ways and various devices are readily available on the market to deter gulls from building their nests on roofs (e.g. wiring & netting). If these measures are thought necessary you should contact a licensed pest control company.

In addition to fixing physical deterrents to roofs, one of the simplest ways of discouraging the birds is to make sure that they are not regularly fed.  The normal diet of "seagulls" is small fish, shellfish, carrion and small seashore creatures.  A diet of bread, biscuits and other waste food is not healthy for seagulls.  Also, managing waste (lids fitted to bins, refuse left out too early) also will help to discourage seagulls.

Further information may be available through British Pest Control Association, Ground Floor, Gleneagles House, Vernongate, Derby DE1 1UP. Tel: 0870 6092687 calls charged at national rates. Fax: 01332 295904 or email enquiry@bpca.org.uk