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Hereford Seagull Control Programme Continuing

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.

For the past six years Herefordshire Council has appointed a specialist contractor to carry out nest and egg clearance during the April to August nesting season in Hereford to control numbers. Live birds and chicks, however, are never harmed and RSPB guidance is always adhered to.

Marc Willimont, Head of Environmental Health and Development Management, said:  “The programme of gull control is going successfully, with the Hereford population gradually decreasing. We would especially like to thank Hereford City Council, who have again agreed to fund this programme to keep it free to both the public and business”. 

“It would help us if both businesses and the public could report where gulls are nesting so that we can direct our contractors to relevant locations. This year we are also making a particular effort to engage with our city centre shops and offices, hoping to get access to shop roofs for the first time.”

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, seaside colonies have relocated to urban areas where food can be plentiful and flat roofs provide them with ideal undisturbed nesting locations. Hereford is such a town, where many of its gulls may never have seen the sea at all, other than to fly over when they migrate to southern 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 Hereford where there hope to find a constant supply of food and shelter.

Across the UK, the growth of such populations has been estimated to be between 5 - 20 percent each year. When Hereford’s control programme first started, it was independently estimated that the city gull population was as high as 500 breeding pairs. Six years later, the colonies seems to have reduced to between 300 – 400 breeding pairs, with far fewer chicks being seen, hopefully meaning that this will further reduce. If the control programme had not been put in place from 2008 onwards, the increase per year would have given Hereford a possible population of between about 700 to 1,500 pairs. This would be in line with the growth rates experienced by some other councils, especially those who have chosen not to act or who have deployed alternative and perhaps less successful solutions.

At the end of the year, the council will hold its annual stakeholder forum when population data is reviewed and decisions are made about future control methods.

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 ethelpline@herefordshire.gov.uk

For further information, please contact Marc Willimont (01432) 261986