A Moray councillor has warned the public about the serious consequences of feeding gulls, as the local authority announces a publicity campaign urging people not to provide the birds with easy pickings.
Councillor Gordon McDonald, who represents Buckie, said: “We’ve had incidents in the past with seagulls. In Buckie there’s a lot of rock armouring to protect the coast, and people throw their crumbs out onto the rocks for the seagulls. The crumbs fall down into the cracks between the rocks, and this has attracted colonies of rats to the area.
“People need to realise that by feeding the seagulls there can be other serious consequences, and they really just shouldn’t be feeding them. We’ve had to get environmental health in to clear the rat infestation.”
Moray Council’s campaign, which is being launched next spring ahead of the breeding season, will urge the public not to discard food waste in places accessible to the birds and provide advice on how to stop nest-building.
The number of gulls colonising urban areas has increased steadily in recent years leading to complaints about noise and droppings. Adult birds can also become aggressive when protecting their young, and there are regular reports of gulls swooping on adults and children in the streets.
While the council has no statutory duty to take action against the birds, and cannot force owners and occupiers of buildings to do so, it is hoped the campaign will raise awareness of legal measures which can be undertaken to control gulls in urban areas.
Scottish SPCA Chief Superintendent Mike Flynn said, “The owners or occupiers of a building can authorise pest control firms to control pest species on their property, particularly where public health or safety is concerned.
“Problems can arise when gulls are protecting their young and attacking or dive-bombing people walking close by their nesting sites.
“As this is an annual occurrence, we would encourage property owners to deter gulls from nesting in certain areas to prevent the problem from arising each year.
“Any action to deter gulls occupying an area must be humane.”