Councillor Draeyk Van Der Horn (Forres, Green) calls for community and Moray Council to work together to prevent nesting on houses
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THE local authority is encouraging council tenants to report seagulls nesting on their roofs so that they can be humanely removed.
Forres Community Council has repeatedly discussed the issue that plagues areas of the town every summer, calling on Moray Council to commit to action that will prevent increased overpopulation and resultant noise and damage.
A Moray Council spokesperson said: “While there is no provision for large-scale measures this year, we are reacting to individual issues in-line with our responsibilities as a landlord.
“A campaign is under way Moray-wide to encourage householders to undertake measures to deter gulls from nesting, to refrain from feeding gulls and to dispose of litter responsibly so as not to attract gulls.”
Councillor Draeyk Van Der Horn (Forres, Green) confirmed the local authority has no legal powers or duty to deal with seagulls unless the occupier of a property where gulls are causing nuisance is a council tenant.
He said: “Gulls are not classed as a pest under legislation and are protected as they are on the conservation red list, meaning a special licence is required to remove nests, eggs or deal with gulls from Nature Scot.”
NatureScot, formerly known as Scottish Natural Heritage, is the public body responsible for the country’s natural heritage.
A spokesperson said: “We understand the frustration that many people have in towns with the disturbance that gulls can cause.
“All breeding birds are protected by law and most breeding gull populations are declining, so a specific licence for lethal control of gulls must be applied for.”
Before NatureScot issue a licence, they look at what alternatives are available.
“Lethal control is a last resort,” said the spokesperson. “It is the local council or landowner who is responsible for taking mitigation measures or licensed control work forward.
“There are mitigation measures that do not require licence - such as installing nets and spikes - which can be applied in some circumstances.
“Developing plans to discourage gull nesting in urban areas is one of the areas we are keen to explore where there are significant issues.
“We are discussing gull issues with Moray council and providing advice on how this can be managed.”
Cllr Van Der Horn is a Findhorn Ecovillage resident and confirms residents netted areas where gulls might nest and now do not have much of an issue with the birds.
As a result, he believes prevention is the key and would like to see more local measures introduced.
He suggested: “Make sure gulls are not encouraged to areas though poor disposal of food waste. Discourage them from nesting in built-up areas by trialling methods such as wires and nets.
“We need a coordinated publicity campaign to indicate how to better prevent nesting, working with partners in the community.
“Pilot a scheme before next year’s nesting season involving the council hiring a falconer to fly birds of prey to ward off gulls. It’s a proven method as gulls are territorial and return to nest sites if undisturbed.”
Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, certain birds may be killed or taken by an authorised person. Birds which can be killed or taken away include Great Black-backed Gulls, Herring Gulls and Lesser Black-backed Gulls. Before any such action is taken, scaring or proofing must be deemed ineffective or impracticable.