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Seagull squad to destroy nests

22/08/2008

The formation of a new team to help deal with the nuisance of seagulls has been announced today.

The Seagull Task Force will shortly begin looking at ways in which gulls can be prevented from nesting and how nests can be effectively destroyed.

Action will begin on the ground next spring with Dumfries acting as a pilot.

The team's formation is the first part of definitive action promised by Environment Minister Michael Russell to tackle the growing problem of urban gulls.

Speaking after visiting problem areas in the town of Dumfries, Mr Russell said:

"Seagulls are a menace to Scottish towns and cities. They thrive on litter and their aggressive behaviour towards other birds, pets and even people is increasingly problematic.

"Dumfries has a particular problem with gulls with regular reports of divebombing and litter strewn around the town after a seagull has raided a bin.

"I even read this week about a young paperboy who has had to abandon his deliveries due to constant attacks from the birds.

"In June, I chaired a summit in Dumfries to discuss what can be done about the issue. I said I would be tough on seagulls and tough on the causes of seagulls.

"The new team will be made up of local representatives and gull experts and will meet soon to consider ways in which gulls can be deterred from nesting in the town.

"By preventing gulls from nesting and destroying nests when discovered we can actively discourage them from breeding in Dumfries, and hopefully force them to look elsewhere.

"I expect the Task Force to start making plans now, ready to swing into action next spring to coincide with the next breeding season.

"If successful, lessons learned will be shared with other local authorities so they can see what has worked in Dumfries with a view to implementing an appropriate response to problems in their area.

"I am sure this will prove to be a worthwhile exercise and an effective means of reducing numbers of nuisance birds in Scotland's towns and cities."

Cllr Jack Groom, Provost for Dumfries, commented:

"There is no doubt the Dumfries population of Gulls are getting bolder. They are now stealing food from people's hands and harassing locals and visitors. It's only a matter of time before a Gull collides with someone and there is a serious injury.

"The time for discussion was at the Gull Summit, now it's time for action. I am delighted the task force will be set up, to remove nests and break up the Gull colonies. There will be an array of Gull experts on this group and I will be looking to them to do everything they can to rid Dumfries of this problem."

The Seagull Task Force will meet soon and begin its work on the ground next spring when gulls usually begin nesting and breeding.

The team will be made up of staff from Dumfries and Galloway Council and Scottish Natural Heritage, working with the Scottish Government.

Nesting deterrents being considered include wires and spikes in previously known gull 'hotspots'.

At the this time of year, most young seagulls will have fledged and the population as a whole will be beginning to disperse. For this reason, it was decided that there would be little merit in the team starting its work on the ground before spring.