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.
Update: May 2019
Due to a legal challenge by Wild Justice, DEFRA have revoked the general licence relating to how the Council can control the impacts of herring gulls and lesser black backed gulls. This is the licence under which the Council and it’s contractor carries out egg and nest removals. DEFRA is reissuing this licence over the coming days and it is anticipated that it will continue to cover the majority of circumstances previously covered by the revoked licence to ensure that action can be taken to protect public health and safety whilst taking into account the needs of wildlife.
Customers should continue to contact NBC Environment (as below) and register their interest for an egg and nest removal treatment and further updates will be provided on this page when the general licence is reissued by DEFRA. Further information can be found at the following link: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/797975/natural-england-general-licence-position-statement.pdf
Update: March 2019
Following on from the success of last year, the Council in conjunction with NBC Environment, is repeating its programme of free egg and nest removal treatments. An important change this year is that following a review by the Local Government Boundary Commission for England, new ward boundaries are coming into force following the local government elections on May 2nd 2019. Free treatments will be available in the following revised wards:
Industrial areas in Midsomer Norton, Westfield and Keynsham, together with some Council owned buildings in the centre of Bath are also being treated.
These are areas where there is evidence of a large, or increasing, population of breeding pairs or areas where gulls could become displaced.
At the moment (late March/early April), gulls will not be building nests but will be pairing up and looking for potential nesting sites.
If you are a resident or a business in one of the above areas and you believe that may have a problem with gulls nesting on your roof as we move into April, then you can contact NBC Environment on 0800 169 9646 (please press the number for the customer services team) to register an interest in having a treatment from April 2019. Alternatively you may submit your request using the online form.
Further information about our 2019 treatment programme, including signs of nesting activity, can be found in our FAQs.
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.
How do I contact NBC Environment to book a treatment?
Contact NBC Environment on 0800 169 9646 (please press the number for the customer services team) or by completing this online form and a treatment can be booked. You will be contacted by one of their team who will advise when your ward will be visited and how you will be updated with the results of the visit including a plan going forward if a nest was found to be present.
Please contact NBC Environment by the end of May 2019 so that the nest can be accessed before any chicks have hatched.
I received a treatment last year and I would like to have another treatment this year. Do I still need to register with NBC Environment?
Yes please. Whilst NBC Environment will have records of last years visits which will help them target their treatments, it is important that previous customers still ring in or complete the web form so that any details can be updated.
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.