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Residents urged to discourage seagulls by keeping food waste off the streets

Residents are being urged to support the council’s ongoing campaign to tackle Herefordshire’s urban seagull population by making sure food waste is not left anywhere the birds can reach it.

In a bid to control numbers, for the past four years Herefordshire Council has appointed a specialist contractor to carry out humane nest and egg clearance within the April to August urban gull nesting season in the city of Hereford. Live birds and chicks however are never harmed and RSPB guidance is always adhered to.

Marc Willimont, acting head of environmental protection and licensing, said:  “The programme of gull control is going successfully and thanks to support from Hereford City Council, who have agreed to pay half the costs, we are able to continue. 

“It would help if both businesses and the public could report where the gulls are nesting so that we can direct our contractors to this location. Also it would help greatly if rubbish in bin liners was not left out too early before collection, as this allows the gulls to rip them open in search of food.”

Many seagulls tend to travel inland from coastal areas to scavenge for food, which they find in both agricultural fields and towns. Over recent years in the UK, seaside colonies have relocated into urban areas, where food can be plentiful and flat roofs provide them with excellent undisturbed nesting locations. Hereford is such a town, where many of its gulls have never seen the sea at all, other than when they migrate over it to fly to mainland Europe in our winter months. These are called urban gulls.

Even this trend is changing, as the past few years have seen increasing numbers of gulls choosing not to migrate and instead taking their chances by over-wintering in the UK’s towns and cities where there can be a constant supply of food and shelter. Across the UK, the growth of such populations has been estimated to be between five to 20 percent each year and as Hereford has an estimated population of between 400 to 500 breeding pairs, the city’s population could alarmingly increase to over a 1000 pairs if unchecked.

Councillor Patricia Morgan, cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said:  “The project has been widely supported by Hereford’s local businesses and residents, who have benefited from the council’s service which removes the gulls’ nests and eggs. This was echoed at a recent stakeholder forum which requested feedback from those mostly affected by the gulls”.

“Whilst we are confident that the number of nesting gulls are hopefully reducing and certainly not increasing, the final figures will not be known until later in the autumn.”

Top tips to discourage seagulls:
• Only put rubbish out on the day it is due to be collected and do not leave bin bags where seagulls can rip them open and feast on food waste. Where possible, store all rubbish in a secure container

• Do not drop food in the street, make sure that takeaway wrappers are put into bins and clear food leftovers from tables
• Discourage people from feeding seagulls. If you do see someone feed them, please explain the problems it can cause and how it can encourage their aggressive behaviour
Anyone who wishes to report a nest on their properties can contact Herefordshire Council on 01432 261761 or email info@herefordshire.gov.uk