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Is it illegal to feed seagulls?

There are no bye-laws to say you cannot feed seagulls, however, we have asked all our food businesses in seaside towns to display 'Please Don't Feed the Seagulls' posters, and put up advisory metal signs in these areas to discourage people from feeding seagulls. Our downloadable poster says:

Please don't feed me

  •  It affects my health
  • It encourage me to steal food and waste
  • It makes us gulls aggressive towards humans
  • It causes nuisance

 What can be done about seagulls ripping open refuse sacks?

Seagulls have discovered that plastic refuse sacks often contain an easy source of food. We are aware of this problem and encouraged all residents to act responsibly and make sure that their own refuse is put out for collection in a suitable container for collection (this would usually be a dustbin with a fitted lid).

Wheeled bins with lids have been provided across the district and every household either has a suitable bin or special 'seagull proof' sack which helps to eliminate this problem.

What can be done about the noise?

Unfortunately, there is nothing that can be done specifically about the noise. However, you should also see the advice below about seagulls nesting on your property. It may be appropriate to consider bird proofing works to your own roof and other suitable nesting sites and if the seagulls are on someone else’s property, you may wish to speak to the owner or occupier of that property and ask them to consider proofing their property too. Any commercial pest control contractor would usually be happy to advise you in this respect.

What can be done about fouling?

Unfortunately, there is nothing that can be done specifically about fouling. However, you should also see the advice about seagulls nesting on your property below. It may be appropriate to consider bird proofing works to your own roof and other suitable nesting sites and if the seagulls are on someone else’s property, you may wish to speak to the owner or occupier of that property and ask them to consider proofing their property too. Any commercial pest control contractor would usually be happy to advise you in this respect.

What can be done about aggressive gulls dive-bombing and attacking people?

This behaviour is almost always because the adult gulls are protecting their chicks. In law this may be the basis of a civil action and it could be the responsibility of the owner of the property to take reasonable steps to deal with the problem. However, often the best solution is to simply try to avoid the birds and wait until the chick is big enough to fly. In circumstances where gulls are clearly physically attacking people to the extent that they can be shown to present a danger to public safety or health, it is possible for competent persons (usually expert pest control contractors) to obtain a licence from Natural England to destroy the birds. In doing so the person must take care that they comply with all the conditions in the licence and, if their methods include shooting, to inform the police in advance. Any persons relying on this licence must first be satisfied that non-lethal methods of resolving the problem are ineffective or impracticable.

How can I prevent seagulls nesting on my property?

This is an area in which a number of pest control companies have specialist knowledge and before committing to a programme of works, you are advised to consider seeking specialist help. In general terms gulls can be discouraged from nesting and roosting on your property by using a variety of methods:

  • Netting - consisting of strong weather-proof plastic nets appropriately secured. Primarily for building frontages and valleys.
  • Post and wire systems- wire or strong mono-filament stretched between steel posts that deter the gulls from roosting. Mainly used in a criss-cross pattern on flat roofs and along ridges.
  • Spike systems - plastic or stainless steel prongs protruding vertically, at a slight angle, from a base strip. Usually pre-fabricated in standard strip and cut to the necessary dimensions. Ideal for ridges and smaller horizontal surfaces.

You may wish to consult any one of a number of local and national pest control companies who carry out bird proofing.

What can I do about seagulls nesting on my property?

Herring gulls are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. However if there are public health or public safety concerns, a General licence could be issued by Natural England to allow control measures to be taken. For further advice you could contact Natural England (previously English Nature) by telephone on 0845 600 3078. This permits a landowner or person authorised by him to take, damage or destroy the nests or eggs or kill birds in accordance with the terms and conditions set out in the licence.

Public health issues could include nesting on a flue to a gas boiler so that fumes could build up. Problems with noise, smells and property damage are not sufficient public health reasons to be given a licence.

An individual gull attacking people on a regular basis and where it was impossible to avoid the gull may present a justified reason for action on public safety grounds.

The police enforce the law and you may need to satisfy them that you hold a correct and valid licence and that the terms and conditions of that licence are being fully met.

You may wish to consult any one of a number of local and national pest control companies who carry out this specialist kind of work.

What can I do about injured birds?

It is common to find a chick on the ground, having fallen from its rooftop nest. If the chick is not injured, it must be left where it is - the parents will continue to look after it. If it is in danger it can be moved a short distance to a safer place. If it is injured you may wish to report an animal in distress (sick, injured or trapped animal) to the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999.

What can I do if I see cruelty to birds?

If you witness an act of cruelty you may wish to report the matter to the RSPCA National Cruelty and Advice line on 0300 1234 999.

Report a complaint about seagulls

 Please report a problem with seagulls

Further information

Please see our main seagull page.