Angus Council losing seagull war despite £100k warchest

Gulls are losing their fear of humans and are increasingly coming in into conflict with them in urban areas say experts. Picture: AP
Gulls are losing their fear of humans and are increasingly coming in into conflict with them in urban areas say experts. Picture: AP
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A county plagued by so-called “supergulls” has spent more than £200,000 of taxpayers’ cash in attempts to keep the birds at bay, it has been revealed.

One councillor said there “wasn’t a burgh or a village” in the county of Angus which did not have a problem with nesting gulls, their noise and their mess.

Figures, obtained under Freedom of Information laws, show Forfar-based Angus Council has spent £218,549 fending off the avian pests in the past five years.

Some £114,749 was spent on pest control – mostly gull-related – and £103,000 on responding to specific complaints about gulls, as attacks from so-called supergulls have increased in urban areas.

The council has received more than 751 complaints and carried out 1,555 gull control treatments since 2011.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the coastal towns have been worst hit by seagulls – Arbroath recorded 305 gull-related messages passed on to the council, Montrose 285 and Carnoustie 82.

It was revealed recently that neighbouring Aberdeenshire Council had also spent almost £200,000 since 2010 trying to combat the nuisance birds, with annual costs of around £2,200 to deploy hawks.

An Angus Council spokesman said that it had provided a free service to remove seagull nests and eggs since 2009.

He said: “Up until 2014, we employed a falconer to fly birds of prey and disturb gulls prior to the nesting season. This was discontinued as part of efficiencies and savings.”

He added: “People can help us tackle the nuisance caused by gulls by not feeding them, and properly disposing of litter and food waste.”

Arbroath East and Lunan councillor Donald Morrison said “There isn’t a burgh or village around Angus which doesn’t experience a problem with gulls.”

Britain’s leading urban gull expert, Peter Rock, said the UK government needed to invest in research into the problem.

He said: “Wecan’t tackle the problem of this new kind of urban gull until we find out everything we can about them – where they go, what they do, what their behaviour is and where they breed.”

Keith Bretton, vice-president of the Trust for British Ornithology, said gulls are “no longer scared” of humans. He said: “They’ve learned to live with us and are used to coming into contact with us – and now they’re getting into conflict with us, too.”

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