'Seagulls' are a typical feature of the coast in the UK and a natural part of our country’s wildlife. Where nesting gulls pose a real risk to public health, the RSPB accepts that measures to prevent them nesting may be necessary.
The most effective measures involve reducing the availability of food and reducing the attractiveness of nest-sites. However, this is not an instant solution. It requires planning and action well ahead of the nesting season.
The RSPB favours non-lethal solutions and believes gulls should be killed only as a last resort, especially since several species are of conservation concern.
It is best to avoid widespread feeding of gulls where problems could result. Some local authorities are considering by-laws to prevent the feeding of gulls in certain areas. To be effective, however, councils also need to ensure that landfill tips are well-managed and that streets are regularly cleaned.
There appear to be fewer problems where local authorities provide wheelie-bins than in areas where rubbish is collected in plastic sacks, which are easily punctured by cats, dogs, gulls and foxes.
It is preferable to leave nesting birds undisturbed, especially since the populations of some gulls are declining. However, if there is a genuine reason for not having roof-nesting gulls, it is better to deter them rather than to destroy them or their nests once they have started breeding, as gulls and active nests are legally protected.
A simple system of wires on a frame (30cm deep) can be fitted into the area the birds are using, for example, between the chimney pots. This prevents gulls from landing and folding their wings. On flat roofs, wires can be stretched and held in place with brackets, again 30cm high, though this becomes difficult if the roof is large.