Call to tackle seagulls over cafe culture threat

Joanna Mowat has called for action to tackle the seagull problem. Picture: Dan Phillips
Joanna Mowat has called for action to tackle the seagull problem. Picture: Dan Phillips
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STARVING seagulls will torment al fresco diners and threaten the city’s cafe culture vision unless an urgent plan is drawn up to cope with the pests, it has been claimed.

Councillor Joanna Mowat insisted that curbing roadside waste by “containerising” black bags in the city centre will dramatically erode seagulls’ traditional food source in urban areas and see the birds grow increasingly aggressive in pursuit of a meal.

The Conservative environment convener at City ­Chambers said since the summer introduction of new waste practices – which sees communal bins and gull-proof bags replace on-street black refuse sacks – seagulls have ­become even more vicious.

Janice Donaldson, 59, a resident of Broughton Road, said her ­summer has been blighted with divebombing seagulls that made her a “prisoner in [her own] home”.

“At this time of year chicks are flightless and falling off roofs and landing in people’s gardens,” she said. “I had one in my garden but no-one would take responsibility for getting rid of it. For two days the adult birds were circling and 
swooping, making us run inside because we thought we were going to be attacked.

“I’ve lived here for 23 years and this is the worst it’s ever been.”

Cllr Mowat said she would raise the issue at the next Transport and Environment Committee meeting.

She said: “The council needs to develop a plan for how they will deal with the gulls if they begin to congregate in large numbers. I think the main ­impact will be that gulls will congregate which can lead to aggression and they do steal food from plates and hands.”

Only the owner of a building or occupier can take action against gulls nesting on it, or give someone else permission to act on their behalf.

The city has no statutory duty to take action against gulls and only licensed contractors with specialist skill and experience are legally allowed to kill certain species of gulls. A spokesperson for the Royal Society for Protection of Birds Scotland welcomed the move to limit on-street food waste.

He said: “Our experience shows there appears to be fewer issues with gulls where local authorities provide wheelie bins than in areas where rubbish is collected in plastic sacks. It is possible that birds will move from the area if there is no longer food freely available.”

Environment convener Cllr Lesley Hinds dismissed calls for a cull and said reducing food sources was “one of the best ways” to discourage seagulls from congregating in the city.

She said: “The council provides advice to residents about how to deter gulls from nesting on their properties and offers pest control services on a commercial basis. A cull of seagulls would be extremely difficult within existing legislation and some species are also protected, so this is not an option we are currently considering.”