Edinburgh resident seeking help with seagull problem told to hire a hawk

Pram-pushing mothers were dive-bombed, pets attacked and a car windscreen smashed, with seagulls a persistent nuisance for residents in one Edinburgh cul-de-sac last summer.

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But efforts to prevent a repeat this year were thwarted when one of the residents from Ferry Gait Place in Drylaw asked the council to come and remove the gulls’ nests.

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The council told him the service was not available. And instead they told him – hire a hawk.

The resident, who asked not to be named, said the gulls had been a daily problem last year.

"There were about seven nests in the street,” he said. “Mums with new babies were being dive-bombed as they walked past. Cats and dogs were being attacked.

"I had a shell or a rock dropped on my car which smashed my windscreen. Luckily I was able to replace it through insurance cover, but it was a complete hassle.”

He said one the seagull nests was in the roof of a garden hut at the entrance to the cul-de-sac. “Because there's only one way in and out of the street, you get swooped every time you walk past,” he said.

The seagulls were a daily nuisance last summer.

And he fears the same is going to happen again this summer, adding: “The gulls are already back and that nest is still there waiting – because even if it’s an old nest, the homeowner is not allowed to touch it since gulls are a protected species.”

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The resident said he had contacted the council for help around April last year, asking them to remove the nests.

“When I called, the council said ‘we do offer this service, however you’re too late – egg and nest removal requires a special licence and this licence needs to be applied for in January or February’.

“So this February I contacted the council again and said ‘I asked for help on this last year, it's now February, can you please help?’ And they said ‘no, we’re now not doing it at all, and we suggest instead you hire a hawk’.

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"Edinburgh council is telling homeowners to hire hawks to deal with gulls.”

In an email to the resident, a council official stressed local authorities had no statutory obligation to provide a gull control programme and the only such work carried out was on problem sites owned by the council.

“Due to limited staff capacity and internal pressures, we are unable to offer the gull control programme this year to private property owners,” the email said.

"I would instead advise you to contact a private pest control contractor that specialises in bird control to obtain a quotation for either a hawking, deterrent or egg and nest removal service if you require professional assistance. We hope to be able to offer this service again in future years.”

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A council spokesperson said: “This is not a service which the council provides for private properties. In this instance the consent and a licence for each of the property owners would be required and in these properties the only effective solution would be a hawking programme, which the council does not and is not required to provide.

"Therefore the property owner was advised to contact a private pest control service to investigate this.”

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