Mental health plea amid gull ‘epidemic’ in Dumfries and Galloway

Councillors in Dumfries and Galloway have been asked to address a gull “infestation” of “epidemic proportions” in the region, amid a claim that the birds are negatively affecting people’s mental health.

A motion submitted to the Council, and first reported by the BBC, said the whole region was being impacted by the birds, and called for an “effective and efficient” plan to fix the issue.

Councillors Willie Scobie and Tommy Sloan, who moved the motion, also said the gulls were causing "all sorts of problems" and “seriously effecting local residents’ mental health.

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The pair called on the Council to seek expertise and financial resources from the Scottish Government to deal with the protected birds.

Are gulls protected in law?

Removal of gull eggs and nests without a licence is an offence in Scotland and the rest of the UK.

Local authorities in Scotland must apply to NatureScot for a licence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 before being allowed removing eggs and nests under strict conditions.

Destroying eggs or live gulls is only permitted by NatureScot as a last resort for preserving human health and safety, such as when the birds are observed “dive-bombing” the public or where there is a risk of their droppings contaminating foodstuffs.

Councillors in Dumfries and Galloway have been asked to address a gull “infestation” of “epidemic proportions” in the region, amid a claim that the birds are negatively affecting people’s mental health.

The public body lists a number of measures people can take without a license, such as removing old nesting material and food waste, as well as disturbing the gulls at the start of their nesting season.

Gull control project

Dumfries and Galloway Council said there has been a gull control project in Dumfries for more than a decade, focusing on removing eggs and nests during breeding season.

It also pointed to an “extremely effective” trial of a single “gull-proof bin” on Dumfries High Street, and will now introduce 50 more bins with gull-proof flaps across the region.

But a survey in 2018 found that while gull numbers had fallen significantly in Dumfries, the total number of breeding pairs was rising across the region year on year - being displaced out of the town to other urban areas.

A gull count commissioned in 2020 found other prominent colonies in Annan, Kirkcudbright and Stranraer.

Councillors are set to vote on the motion on Thursday, September 23.

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