Seagulls

Basic information on the protection of seagulls and how to prevent nesting and nuisance.

Basic information on the protection of seagulls

Most people will acknowledge gulls as an integral part of the seaside and coastal environment. However, it is apparent that more and more gulls are moving into built up areas to nest. 

Gulls are very resourceful and highly intelligent creatures. They are also very social and often form large colonies. While there are many species of Gull, only herring gulls and lesser black-backed gulls nest in suburban areas in any significant number. Some people find gulls can cause nuisance through noise, mess and damage by picking at roofing materials or blocking gutters with nests. Gulls can also be aggressive if they feel that they or their young are under threat, or if their nest is disturbed.

Gulls are protected under the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981. This makes it illegal to intentionally injure or kill any gull, or to take, damage or destroy an active nest or its contents. However, the law recognises that in some circumstances control may be necessary. Action can be taken to prevent the spread of disease, to ensure public health and safety or to prevent serious damage to agriculture. Any action taken must be in accordance with the terms of a General Licence issued by Natural England.  Further information can be found on the general licences page on Natural England website.  Under European legislation, there is a requirement to demonstrate that there is a likelihood of serious damage before any action is taken to remove birds. European legislation also requires non-lethal measures to be considered. Nuisance (such as noise) or damage to property are not legitimate reasons to kill gulls.

Discouraging gulls can be very difficult. You can help by not actively feeding gulls and by using physical barriers to prevent nesting. For specific advice you will need to contact a specialist gull proofing company. 

Further information can be found from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, their briefing note and press release.

 
For advice, you can contact us.