Although more gulls are nesting on the roofs of seaside towns, overall the UK gull population has been going down. Like all other wild birds, gulls are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, making it an offence to intentionally injure or kill any gull, or to take, damage or destroy an active nest or its contents.

However, licences issued by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) allow control measures to be taken where there are public health or public safety concerns. The law does not permit control measures for gulls if they are causing noise nuisance or simply damaging property. When gulls are fed regularly it creates an artificially high population and encourages further breeding pairs to take up residence in the area. You are strongly advised not to feed the seagulls as this will not only increase the seagull population but will also cause unnecessary annoyance to neighbours. The possibility of introducing a byelaw making it an offence to feed seagulls has been investigated and the Home Office has indicated that feeding seagulls does not merit criminal sanctions.

Current Control Measures

  • All new litter bins in seaside towns have flaps across the apertures to prevent scavenging by gulls
  • Posters requesting people not to feed the seagulls are displayed in seaside towns and have been distributed to local food businesses
  • Advice is given to property owners on methods of protecting their own buildings
  • East Devons’ seaside towns have their refuse collected earlier during the summer which successfully  reduces littering caused by seagulls


Herring gulls especially like nesting on flat rooftops, chimneys and gullies in sloping roofs. Eggs are laid from May (usually two or three in each nest). The eggs take about three weeks to hatch. The first chicks are seen in June. It is quite common for young gulls to fall down chimneys, or off roofs, into gardens or onto the road. Gulls see humans as a threat and will dive towards humans who go near their young. Normally they swoop close but do not hit you.

Report a complaint about seagulls

 Please report a problem with seagulls.

Further information

Please see our frequently asked questions section our Gull Gazette and our leaflet.