Falling complaints may lead to no direct council action on Gull attacks

Councillors will be urged to agree poster campaign ahead of gull breeding season

Councillors look set to agree the launch of a poster campaign waning people of the dangers of feeding seagulls prior to their next breeding season.

Towns and villages throughout the region have been recording increasing numbers of attacks by gulls protecting their young, with postal deliveries in one part of Elgin even being suspended for a period two years ago because of the dive-bombing birds.

Council officials say there is little that they can actually do about the situation – however, they will stress in a publicity campaign that options are available to members of the public under a Scottish Natural Heritage general licence.

Under that licence the owner or occupier of land is deemed to be an ‘authorised person’ who can take action against gulls for the preservation of public health, public safety or prevention of the spread of disease.

On Tuesday members of the planning and regulatory services committee at Moray Council will be asked to consider current action taken to control gulls by the local authority.

Councillors will be told that there has actually been a downward trend in complaints about Seabirds in Moray over the last three years.

That, and an additional budget requirement of around £30,000 to take any gull control measures, will see councillors being advised not to take any action meantime other than the publicity campaign.

In a paper prepared for Tuesday’s meeting Donnie Mackay, Environmental Health Manager, says: “Following the most recent complaints received via the social networking site all 32 local authorities in Scotland were contacted through the Society of Chief Officers of Environmental Health in Scotland to determine what action if any was being taken to control gulls.

“A total of eight local authorities responded – four local authorities provide a similar service to The Moray Council in that they gave advice and information on controlling gulls.

“The other four authorities provide a range of services including the removal of eggs and nests, the use of falcons, the oiling of eggs and the proofing of buildings.

“Three local authorities gave details of budgets provided for this type of work. One was £53,000 per annum, another was £32,000 per annum and another indicated that they used a cherry picker which was hired during the nesting season at £600 per day.”

While urging no direct action other than the publicity campaign, Mr Mackay does urge that the position is reviewed again at the end of the 2015 nesting season.

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