Should Seagulls Be Considered “Pests”?

August 7, 2013 9:37 am
A menace to be taken seriously?

A menace to be taken seriously?

Last month, it was reported that Royal Mail postmen had refused to deliver mail to a seaside cul-de-sac in Cornwall after having been attacked by aggressive seagulls. They have been told to “man up” by local residents and get used to being attacked at any time – but a seagull attack is nothing to joke about.

In 2001, a woman was attacked and left with deep wounds on her head; one year later, an 80-year-old Anglesey pensioner died from a heart attack after such an attack in his garden, while in 2009, a seagull attacked a baby in a pram at Caernarfon, leaving him with a cut lip.

Despite a seagull population explosion in urban centres, the law doesn’t permit the birds to be killed or hurt.

Seagulls are protected under the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981, which makes it illegal to “intentionally injure or kill any seagull, or to take, damage, or destroy, an active nest or its contents”.

The legislation recognises that there might be certain circumstances where control could be necessary, but noise or damage to property are not legitimate reasons to kill seagulls.

Where there is an unresolvable problem, there is always a potential business to put forward, and here is where pest control companies come up with some ingenious ideas.

For some, it can be difficult to consider these birds as pests; however, an infestation could lead to architectural damage to properties and possible health and safety issues,” says the Rentokil website, offering “safe, cost-effective and eco-friendly deterrent solutions for controlling seagulls”.

Rentokil’s bird proofing gel is durable and will remain effective in all weather conditions,” the site claims.

Frequent contact with the AviGo gel causes short-term irritation to the gulls without harming them. Over a limited period of time they will quickly learn to avoid the treated areas and the flock will be dispersed.”

Want more? Just have a look at the “Ersatz Eggs” presented on the “urban seagull control” website as “an environmentally friendly and humane method of reducing seagull populations in our towns and cities”.

These disquieting and fake imitation eggs are supposed to be placed in the seagulls’ nests, as “recent scientific studies have proven that urban gulls will accept plastic imitation eggs in place of their own in the nest, and whilst incubating the imitation eggs, the gulls are quiet and less aggressive”.

And here comes the “environmentally friendly” aspect, as these fake (made of plastic, of course) eggs “are easy to deploy and are reusable the following year”.

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