We see plenty of stories in the news about how seagulls have been causing a menace - like a house in Wales that has been blacklisted by the postman due to an aggressive gull. If you have a problem with seagulls in your area, it can be difficult to know exactly what you can and can't do about it.
Gulls and the Law
All species of gull are legally protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 - even the three species that are recognised as being potential pests (Greater black-backed gull, Lesser black-backed gull, and the Herring gull).
The Act makes it illegal to intentionally injure or kill a gull, or destroy an active nest and its contents. The law does recognise that, under some circumstances, some lethal control measures may be necessary, and there are provisions for licences to be issued that will allow for the destruction of nests or killing of gulls. However, this is rare and relies on there being no non-lethal alternative. The reasons for awarding the licence can be: to prevent serious damage to agriculture, to preserve public health and safety, or to conserve other wild birds. Noise and nuisance are not strong enough reasons for a licence.
What does this mean in practice?
In practice, unless you have a licence issued for a very good reason, killing or injuring seagulls is illegal. This means that deterring seagulls from nesting, and repelling them from the area is the only approach you can take. This approach is complicated somewhat by the law prohibiting the destruction or removal of active nests, which means that no removal methods can be employed until all chicks have grown up and flown the nest.
Seagulls start breeding in April and build nests from late April to early May. Eggs start to hatch at around the beginning of June, and it can take 6 weeks before they fledge. They're usually looked after by their parents for a little while longer too, which means September/October is generally the time when nests are abandoned. As the process starts over again in April, you don't want to leave it too long before tackling the problem.
Saegulls will eat anything, so preventing them accessing rubbish and food scraps is the first step in trying to reduce the population in the area and discourage more birds. Try to avoid leaving black binliners out, as gulls can easily peck through to get at the food inside. Of course, controlling what others do can be more difficult, especially in a commercial area, so this may not always be possible.When it comes to installing effective preventative measures to discourage nesting, approaching a professional is usually the best tactic - we have the skills, expertise, and experience to know the most effective approach.
JPS also have access to all the "working at height" equipment that might be needed, saving you time and money. There are a variety of approaches to deterring seagulls (and, indeed, pigeons and other nuisance birds) from nesting on your building - from the traditional bird nets and bird spikes, to more modern methods including ultrasonic and bio-acoustic systems.
Professional advice can help you get the best solution for your specific circumstances. If you've struggled through the seagull nesting period, chances are you also have plenty of guano (the nice way of saying droppings, poo, or faeces!) to deal with. This is another area we'd recommend getting professional help in dealing with, due to the health risks associated with bird droppings, not to mention how unsightly they are, and how slippery they can become as the wet weather sets in.
If you would like help with a seagull problem, or want to check that it's the right time to start removing nests, why not get in touch. We'd be happy to help.