Moray gull eggs to be dipped in paraffin to stop chicks hatching

Gull eggs are to be dipped in liquid paraffin in a bid to cut the bird's numbers. Picture: John Devlin
Gull eggs are to be dipped in liquid paraffin in a bid to cut the bird's numbers. Picture: John Devlin
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Eggs laid by nuisance seagulls in the North-east of Scotland are to be “oiled” to stop them hatching in a bid to cut numbers of the birds plaguing local communities.

The move is to be trialled in Elgin in Moray after numerous complaints about the dive-bombing menaces.

Council bosses are spending £11,000 on the scheme, which is set to benefit 1,500 homes.

Coating the eggs in liquid paraffin – known as oiling – suffocates the embryo, without parent birds realising.

They remain unaware eggs have been tampered with and will continue to sit on them, reducing the chance they will lay replacements.

The technique is considered by experts to be 100 per cent effective and a humane method of bird control if carried out at the right time of year.

Gulls have been a problem in the area for the past few years, with residents forced to endure sleepless nights due to their incessant shrieks.

Holidaymakers have even reportedly cut trips short.

Gulls have also been involved in a number of dive-bombing incidents, with local primary children resorting to eating snacks indoors due to aggressive targeting by the birds.

Moray Council has developed a pilot scheme to curb the nuisance and now plans to carry out oiling of eggs in residential areas.

The initiative will be funded using money from the town’s common good fund and the housing department.

The trial will cover 1,498 properties in the New Elgin, Kingsmills and Lesmurdie areas of the town.

Elgin Community Council chairman Alastair Kennedy believes action against the seagull menace is necessary but raised concerns over the effectiveness of the proposals.

He said: “It sounds like a good idea but we do have a few concerns about it. Since it is only being used in these specific areas, it might post the seagulls to another area of Elgin, and it is not a quick fix as it will take a few years before you will see any benefit.

“It is getting to the stage that they are becoming a nightmare and something needs done, but even if this pilot scheme works how can it be used in the rest of Elgin, which is a big area and how can we maintain it? So we have a few concerns but will have to find out more about it before we can fully support it.”

Egg oiling involves dipping the eggs in paraffin, which prevents the unborn bird from maturing to the point of hatching. Meanwhile, the parents will remain unaware the nest has been interfered with and will continue to sit on it.

Robertson Drive resident Elaine Chapman was woken early in the mornings last summer because of the seagulls’ incessant shrieking and said she will back the scheme if it is successful in controlling their breeding and noise.