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Moray councillors decide against forking out for a new survey aimed at tackling problems with gulls

Gulls are a menace in Moray
Gulls are a menace in the north-east

Gull-proof bins and a public education campaign will be introduced to help Moray communities rid themselves of a much-maligned menace.

But nest and egg removal will stop and a major survey into the breeding, feeding and behavioural habits of gulls across the north-east will not go ahead.

Lengthy discussions on the issue of urban gulls was had during a meeting of the full Moray Council on Wednesday, prompted by changes to the licence being introduced by NatureScot.

As gulls are a protected species, building owners are expected to show they have taken adequate prevention measures, such as placing spikes on roofs, before a licence for egg and nest removal is granted.

Council leader Graham Leadbitter put forward the motion to progress the bin roll-out, introduce a public awareness campaign and continue laser disruption of gulls in Elgin and Forres with the potential for it to be carried out in other areas if funding is available from external sources.

While some measures will be introduced to help control urban gulls councillor Graham Leadbitter feels they will not make a “significant impact”.

With changes to the licence, including building owners having to apply individually, and financial pressures Mr Leadbitter felt there was no “significant impact” the council could make to the urban gull problem at the moment.

He said: “If we can reduce food availability there’s a chance the gulls will go elsewhere.

“We have seen a big influx of gulls that, after the breeding season, move into areas that have been vacated.”

SNP councillor for Fochabers Lhanbryde David Bremner highlighted the issue of gulls feeding on agricultural land.

He said: “When you go past some of these outdoor pig areas there’s gulls grazing away.”

Conservative councillor for Buckie Tim Eagle highlighted that measures some members of the public wanted to uses to get rid of the gulls were not in the local authority’s power.

Gulls at Cooper Park in Elgin.

He said: “I would like to put it out there that we don’t have the authority to kill seagulls and we don’t have the authority to shoot seagulls. That is not in the control of any councillor.”

Mr Eagle put forward an amendment that officers put together plans to increase street cleaning teams including costs to reduce food litter that attracts gulls.

However that move was rejected by 12 votes to 10 with two abstentions.

Conservative councillor Frank Brown questioned whether laser disruption of gulls worked, and warned against relying on money from common good coffers and trust funds in the long term.

Labour member for Elgin South John Divers disagreed that egg and nest removal were not effective.

He called for tougher measures to be used against people who put feed out for gulls, and that moss should be removed from roofs to limit nesting materials.

£44,000 will be spent on gull-proof bins

Mr Leadbitter pledged to continue lobbying government and to contact agricultural organisation in relation to the bird problem.

Installing gull-proof bins will cost £44,000, with £2,000 for the education campaign.

The gull survey that councillors decided not to progress would have formed part of a wider report covering the north-east and involving other local authorities.

But the cost of £480,000 – £160,000 for Moray – was deemed too high.

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