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Elgin gulls: Nest clearance scheme expanded to turn tables in fight against birds

Gulls at Cooper Park in Elgin.
Gulls at Cooper Park in Elgin.

Gull control measures in Elgin are poised to be expanded after a clearance trial to curb the nuisance of the birds proved successful.

A project to remove nests and eggs from homes was launched by Moray Council in 2019 following rising noise and mess complaints from residents – with some also pinching food out of supermarket shopping trollies.

Even lasers have been deployed in the fight against the birds in the town centre and retail parks to encourage them to settle elsewhere.

Contractor Specialist Vermin Control clear a gull nest from a New Elgin home in 2019.

Stitches needed after gull attacks

Elgin City South councillor John Divers explained the gull clearance project was due to begin in March last year before being delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

He said: “It’s unfortunate it couldn’t happen last year, because the bird population is definitely on the up again.

Elgin City South councillor John Divers.

“Initially it was just for the east of New Elgin and Lesmurdie but it’s been expanded because of the number of complaints, particularly in New Elgin.

“It’s the mess, it’s the noise and it’s birds actually attacking people, particularly when they have their young.

“I know a woman in the Bilbohall area who needed stitches after getting attacked and I’ve got a friend who turned a corner near New Elgin Primary, didn’t see there was young on the ground, then immediately had adult birds attacking him.”

Gulls at Doocot Park in New Elgin.

Gull clearance work to include Elgin schools and cemetery

The pilot project of roof clearances will be extended to include the town centre, New Elgin, Ashgrove, Pinefield, Kingsmills and Lesmurdie areas.

The clearance work, which is being funded by the Elgin Common Good Fund and run by contractor Specialist Vermin Control, will run until the end of the gull nesting season in late July.

Council tenants and private homeowners will be eligible for the scheme to ensure maximum coverage with some schools and the Linkwood Road cemetery also due to be targeted.

A map of the areas to be covered by the scheme.

Moray Mcleod, the council’s acting head of housing and property, said: “The first year trial of this gull control programme in the centre of Elgin was successful, with a reduction in the number of young gulls, so we know it works.

“This year, the programme will be widened to other areas within Elgin and we expect to see marked benefits for residents and users of other non-domestic public facilities.

“It can take up to four or five years for the full benefits to be recognised due to natural behaviours of the gull population.”

Residents need to notify Moray Council about gulls on the roof of their home to receive a visit. Issues can be reported by calling 07564 768581, which is a dedicated number for the contractor, or by e-mailing elgingulls@moray.gov.uk

Residents have been asked to get in contact when nests are being formed due to licences not covering the removal of hatched chicks or adult birds.

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