Sonar devices will be installed across Elgin in an effort to end the town’s urban gull problem.
Elgin Common Good Fund is spending £15,000 to rent seven anti-gull devices that will be in place before the breeding season gets under way.
The move follows a trial carried out by Elgin Bid (Business Improvement District) last year.
A sonic device placed on top of the St Giles Centre on the High Street saw the number of nests fall from 100 to six.
£15,000 spend on sonar gull deterrent
Elgin Bid are now looking to install a second one in the town centre.
Similar trials carried out by Moray Council at East End Primary School in Elgin and a works depot in Mosstodloch also proved successful.
The devices do not hurt the birds but deter them from nesting and breeding.
All six Elgin councillors who administer Common Good funds agreed the spend.
There was praise for Elgin South councillors John Divers and Graham Leadbitter in their efforts to solve the urban gull problems over the years.
Mr Divers said: “The trials by Elgin Bid and the council appear to have worked in a very positive fashion.
“We’re dealing with a problem that the majority of people in Elgin have asked about for years.
“It’s not 100% effective, nothing is.
“But we know from the town centre trial there was a drop over 90% of nests and eggs.
“I’ll wait and see how this works out, but if it’s successful I’ll be jumping for joy.”
Where are they going?
Devices will be placed on some council buildings, a housing association property and one belonging to Moray College.
Depending on where Elgin Bid’s second device goes, there is an option for Common Good to fund an eighth one if needed.
Mr Leadbitter said: “This is an issue that has been raised repeatedly by the public as a matter of concern, and we have tried different approaches.
“The sonic devices being invested in have had a significant impact in the centre of Elgin and elsewhere.
“By using Common Good funding to expand that network to cover the vast majority of Elgin, it will have a big and positive impact for the environment and for the people who live and work here.”
Common Good previously spent £22,000 on a nest and egg removal scheme in the town.
While it had some success, measures needed to be carried out over several years to have a major impact.
Member for Elgin North Amber Dunbar is pleased all the town’s councillors came together to fund the project.
She said: “We all get complaints about the aggressive birds as the sheer volume of them means they compete for food.
“There have been positive results from trials carried out where there have been massively reduced nest numbers.
“I look forward to hopefully seeing that replicated once more devices are in place across the town.
“If that is the case, it should result in fewer birds and less aggression towards people.”
As the birds are protected, people need to get a licence from Nature Scot to deal with any problem gulls on their property.
Stricter conditions for the licence were brought in last year.
Previously one could be used to deal with gulls in a street or area, but each householder now has to apply separately.
It’s not over yet
Elgin South member Peter Bloomfield said: “Yes you will always get some stubborn birds that won’t move.
“But Nature Scot require us to show that we have done something to help deter nesting before they will issue a licence to remove any stubborn gulls nests that have remained.”
“These seven sonic devices, should have a great impact on our seagull problem.”
The devices will be installed by a specialist vermin control company. That work is included in the £15,000.
Councillor for Elgin North Sandy Keith said: “This is something we wanted to do to reduce the seagull problem.
“The trial in the town centre seems to have worked. It’s now being extended to the whole of Elgin and I hope we’ll see similar results.”
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