Urban gulls are an issue for many towns and cities throughout the South West. Whilst we can action situations that may attract gulls, such as poor house-keeping within premises, there is no legislation that enables the Council to control them effectively.
As the breeding season progresses, our contractor (NBC Environment) is finding that many eggs are beginning to hatch and it is no longer possible for new requests for treatments to be taken as the licence provided by Natural England does not allow any interaction with live chicks.
Frequently Asked Questions
What areas specifically get free roof treatments? How have these areas been chosen?
Areas which qualify for the free treatments are the Bath wards of Bathwick, Combe Down, Kingsmead, Moorlands, Newbridge, Odd Down, Oldfield Park, Southdown, Westmoreland and Widcombe and Lyncombe.
The former Welton Bibby factory site in Midsomer Norton is also being treated as well as some Council owned buildings in the city centre of Bath.
These locations have been chosen because evidence confirms large or increasing numbers of breeding pairs of gulls, or they are locations where gulls could become displaced.
I live in one of the identified areas and I think there are gulls nesting on my roof. How and when should I request a roof treatment?
Gulls will typically start nest building in mid-April so start looking to see if you can see any nesting activity on your roof.
Treatment cannot be fully booked until there is confirmation that a nest has been built. We appreciate that it can be difficult to do this when you may not be able to see your entire roof.
Some useful indications that a nest maybe present are:
- Increased activity, with gulls travelling back and forth with twigs and nesting material.
- The nest is formed in two to three days, after which one of the pair will be seen sitting the nest.
- In the early stages, you will see a pair sitting close together, usually close to where the nest will be formed.
- You will also often see an increase in aggression from the adult gulls swooping at anyone or anything that gets too close.
The Council’s contractor, NBC Environment, will need permission from the property owner before they can access a roof. They also need to make sure that your roof can be accessed safely. Access will be via a large van mounted cherry picker or by using ladders.
I live outside the designated areas. I know there are gulls in my area but I can’t get free roof treatments – why not?
The Council is prioritising its funding on those areas where there is evidence of a large, or increasing, population of breeding pairs or areas where gulls could become displaced.
What does the roof treatment actually involve?
It involves the removal of the substantive structure of nests and any eggs through accessing your roof using a mobile platform. The contractor will firstly assess whether it is safe for the treatment to be completed and if so, continue.
If the nest is very difficult to access then it is possible that the treatment will not be able to be completed.
The roof will be revisited on a 21 day cycle to check if any further nests/eggs are present.
How much will this cost me?
The gull nest and egg removal treatment will be free if you live in one of the designated areas. Any further proofing treatments will be charged by NBC Environment at a discounted rate.
Will you be using hawks?
Yes, the contractor may use hawks to deter the gulls away from roofs whilst the treatment is being undertaken.
How will you measure the success of the campaign?
The contractor will be providing up to date information on how many treatments are being completed, how many nests are being removed and how many eggs are being removed in each area. We will also be contacting customers to gauge whether they believe improvements have been achieved for them as a result of the treatments.
How do you know this is the best way of tackling the issue?
These techniques have been used by other local authorities who have similar issues with gulls.
What harm do gulls do?
Gulls are wild animals and consequently can become aggressive especially during the breeding season.
When do they cause most problems and why?
Gulls tend to cause problems during the breeding season when they can become noisy and aggressive in protecting their young.
Is the gull population growing year on year?
The gull population in B&NES has experienced an average increase of 11 breeding pairs per year since 2012. This is a reduced growth rate from previous years (Rock, 2015). The Council will be reassessing the population in 2019/2020.