Pleas for blitz on gull menace

A NEW crackdown on breeding gulls is being considered, after a community council pleaded for something to be done about the “vermin” that has been known to attack people and pets.

The city council is considering a pilot scheme where pest control officers would provide a “free denesting service” during the main breeding season for the lesser black-backed gull, which is said to terrorise some Edinburgh neighbourhoods.

Merchiston Community Council collected 418 signatures for a petition that called for the council to introduce the service in affected streets.

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Now officers have been asked to investigate scope for the service, which has been piloted by other UK councils including Dumfries and Galloway, to be introduced in Merchiston.

If successful, it could then be rolled out to other parts of the Capital that are plagued by noisy and aggressive gulls.

Councillor Robert Aldridge, the city’s environment leader, said: “It is a problem in a number of parts of the city, and we have been trying to find a means to resolve it over a number of years.

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“We have looked at the pilot in Dumfries and Galloway and other councils and will get a report back in November on how effective they have been.”

Councils have no statutory duty to take action against gulls. However, the gull population has become so large in some areas that many are now investing time and resources in dealing with the problem.

Officials at Merchiston have said that they would identify the places where nests are a problem and get consent for action to be taken from the residents. The work would then mean that the council would only have to provide pest control staff on two separate days – one day in April and one day in May. Cllr Aldridge added: “We have had particular problems in tenements where the council, if it is denesting, has to get permission from all workers before it does anything on the roof; that is bureaucratic and expensive. The proposals from Merchiston Community Council are very interesting in that the community takes some control of that.”

Dumfries and Galloway Council offers a free nest and egg removal service during the main breeding period of May-July. It is reported that the service has led to an 87 per cent reduction in the young gull population.

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Mairianna Clyde, chair of Merchiston Community Council, said many residents suffer from a “routine loss of sleep” because of the gulls, while she has heard reports of “people and pets being attacked and intimidated” by the birds.

“At some stage, some kind of control of numbers has to be considered but that is not what we are asking at this stage,” she said.

Fountainbridge/Craiglockhart councillor Gordon Buchan said: “It is a particular issue in my ward, and I would imagine it is an issue in other wards as well. It is a real and pressing issue for many of our residents.”