Herring Gull disruption and dispersal programme

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Our Cabinet has agreed to appoint a specialist contractor to carry out a disruption and dispersal programme targeted at the local Herring Gull population in selected areas on the North Yorkshire coast.

The one year trial programme will be carried out by NBC Environment, focusing on seafront and town centre locations in Scarborough and Whitby where evidence has shown that nuisance from Herring Gulls is at its worst. It would involve the systematic removal of herring gull eggs and nests from buildings in the selected areas and the use of birds of prey such as Harris Hawks and Falcons to deter and scare away gulls.

The programme will be the latest measure employed by the council in a bid to combat the problems associated with gulls, widely reported in the press and media and also directly to the council’s Environmental Health team. In recent years, evidence has shown an increase in the number of attacks on people by the familiar seaside birds as they swoop down on their victims for food, particularly when rearing their young chicks.

It is hoped that a measured programme of disruption and dispersal alongside the council’s existing measures of education and signage about the importance of not feeding the gulls, will start to have a more positive effect on the relationship between people and the gulls.

Cllr Bill Chatt, Scarborough Borough Council Cabinet Member for Public Health and Housing said:

"Everyone knows Herring Gulls are a quintessential part of visiting or living by the seaside and no one wants to see that association disappear. What we have witnessed in recent years though is an ongoing increase in the number of gulls and the nuisance they cause, often in the form of attacks on people.

"The programme will start to tackle those problems head on although it should not be seen as an instant fix and will not be successful in isolation. I cannot emphasise enough the importance of changing human behaviour and our existing initiatives to educate the public about not feeding the gulls will be intensified in the coming months.

"If the programme shows promise in helping to tackle the issues, we will consider whether or not to extend it into future years and to roll it out into other areas of the borough, where there is a need for it."

The disruption and dispersal programme must be carried out in accordance with the conditions within a general licence issued by Natural England. Work to disrupt and disperse the local Herring Gull population will start by early March.