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How hawks, lasers and sonic scarers will be used to control gulls in Moray better than ever before

The £600,000 Moray Council project is being expanded this year to cover more areas.

Specialist Vermin Control in Elgin
Rob Teasdale and Emma Teasdale from Specialist Vermin Control will be working across Moray this year. Image: Jason Hedges/DC Thomson

Sonic scarers and hawks are to be used in expanded plans from Moray to control the nuisance brought by gulls better than ever before.

Banff-based Specialised Vermin Control have been awarded a £657,000 contract to carry out deterrent works across the region.

Now it can be revealed the local authority is going further than recent years with two extra sonic scarers due to be installed to bring the total to 10.

Hawks and lasers will also be used in Moray Council housing estates in Elgin, Forres, Lossiemouth and Buckie.

Why action to scare off gulls is being expanded across Moray

A pilot project was launched by Moray Council in Elgin in 2022 to and reduce the number of gulls nesting and breeding in the town.

Eight sonic scarers were used last year, with the total due to be increased to 10 this year to target more “hot spots”.

The devices do not hurt the birds and are designed at encouraging them to settle in more rural and coastal areas.

John Divers with gulls on roof behind.
Elgin South councillor John Divers says he has received fewer complaints about gulls since sonar devices were installed in the town. Image: Jason Hedges/DC Thomson

Elgin City South councillor John Divers said: “We learned from the results of last year’s device installation, use of the hawk and lasers that the number of nests dropped significantly.

“This has started the process of breaking the nesting and breeding cycle, although it can take time for the full impact to be seen.

“I’m pleased we’re making further progress, all of which is within the parameters of guidance from NatureScot.”

Rob Teasdale, managing director of Specialist Vermin Control, said: “We’re providing one of the 10 devices at no charge and will supplement them by flying two hawks in the areas in early mornings and weekends, outwith school hours, so we can fully target the problem areas.

Rob Teasdale installing gull scaring device on roof.
Rob Teasdale of setting up gull deterrent device on Elgin High Street. Image: Moray Council

“We’ve tweaked the zones and number of deterrents this year and, while no method is 100% effective or guaranteed, the results we saw last year suggest these tools the council are deploying are having a positive impact on the gull issue in Elgin.”

Special permission is needed to remove herring gull nests due to the species, which is most commonly seen in north-east towns, being on the RSPB’s “red list” for endangered birds. 

The Moray gull hot spots to be targeted by hawks, lasers and sonic scarers

Moray MSP Richard Lochhead says he has been contacted by several residents as the nesting season approaches.

Moray Council wrote to him to outline the locations where gulls will be targeted by a mix of sonic scarers, lasers and hawks, which are due to begin this month.

  • New Elgin Primary School
  • East End Primary School
  • West End Primary School
  • Greenwards Primary School
  • Seafield Primary School
  • Bishopmill Primary School
  • Elgin High Schools
  • Osprey flats on Reiket Lane
  • UHI Moray
  • Linkwood
  • New Elgin Hall
  • Moray Council headquarters in Elgin
  • Ashgrove council depot in Elgin
  • Mosstodloch council depot
  • Forres High School
  • Lossiemouth High School
Gull perched next to chimney.
Gulls are becoming more prominent on rooftops ahead of the nesting season. Image: Jason Hedges/DC Thomson

An additional £27,000 from Elgin’s common good fund is being used for new devices to deter gulls from nesting.

Elgin City South councillor Graham Leadbitter says there is also action householders can take to deter gulls from nesting on their roof or visiting.

He said: “Although Moray Council has no statutory duty to act against gulls, given the number of gull-related issues all Elgin councillors receive I’m pleased we’ve been able to agree the use of common good funding for this again.

“I’d encourage everyone to play their part now by taking preventative measures, such as clearing moss from roofs and avoiding feeding gulls to further discourage them from nesting in Elgin.”