New advice on gulls issued to residents and business in Aberdeen

New guidance on tackling the nuisance of urban gulls is being issued by Aberdeen City Council.

There is a growing population of the lesser black-backed and herring species nesting in the roofs of properties within the city, as opposed to coastal cliffs.

The problem has been compounded by discarded food in city streets and by some members of the public feeding the birds.

The City Council's Environmental Health team is stressing in the new leaflet, 'Living with Urban Gulls: Survivors Guide', that there is no "quick fix" solution.

The brochure highlights the difficulties associated with gulls, including noise, property damage, the spreading of disease and aggression towards humans.

Residents are strongly encouraged not to feed the gulls or drop food scraps.

The leaflet also outlines what can be done under current legislation, the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, in terms of taking action against nesting gulls.

Environmental Health has no statutory duties or powers to take action against gulls nesting on buildings - only property owners or occupiers can do so.

Aberdeen City Council's Convener of Communities, Housing and Infrastructure, Councillor Neil Cooney, said: "The message here is simple – people should not be feeding gulls or dropping litter or food scraps - this is littering and punishable by law.

"Aside from being an offence, it is not in the best interest of the birds – their diet is based on shellfish and other small sea creatures, bird's eggs, insects and earthworms. Too much human food is not good for them, and when fed regularly, they expect everyone to do the same, with the next step leading to attacking people and stealing food."

Property owners can discourage gulls from nesting by erecting deterrent devices on chimney heads and flat roof areas.

These include fitting long spikes to chimney stacks, fitting short spikes to dormer roofs, fitting wires or nets to prevent gulls landing and the disturbance of nests including removal of nests.

The leaflet strongly recommends that members of the public take advice from specialist companies before undertaking any nest removal or egg oiling or piercing.

It is illegal to interfere with a nest or eggs, but the law provides a general licence system which allows property owners to take such action. The licence system can only be used for the purpose of preserving public health and preventing the spread of disease, however.

Ideally, the works should be carried out by an experienced, competent contractor.

Copies of the leaflet will be provided to any member of the public who requests information, along local businesses and property owners.

The brochure will also be made available as a downloadable document on the City Council website: