National solution needed to solve gull problem

South Scotland list MSP Colin Smyth has called on the Scottish Government to work on a national response to the growing gull problem in town centres.

Tuesday, 24th August 2021, 5:39 pm
Seagulls are causing misery across Dumfries and Galloway ... and beyond

Complaints about the birds have increased in recent months, last week the Gazette reported on the issue in Kirkcudbright, and concerns have also been raised about the problem in Dumfries, Annan, and Stranraer.

Councils currently have no statutory duty or powers to take action against gulls, although some local authorities such as Dumfries and Galloway have used a range of methods such as nest and egg removal and using birds of prey to scare gulls away from problem areas.

Mr Smyth believes the Scottish Government needs to play more of a role including stronger littering laws that make it an offence to feed gulls and direct support to fund gull proofing on buildings.

He said: “In 2008, then Environment Minister Mike Russell visited Dumfries and Galloway promising to be tough on seagulls and tough on the causes of seagulls, but it’s certainly been an unlucky 13 years for local people because not much has changed. In fact, the Government has strengthened the protection of gulls.

“Dumfries and Galloway Council has tried birds of prey to scare the gulls away and introduced the egg and nest removal scheme, giving people who have nesting gulls on their roof some respite.

"Obviously, this was halted during the pandemic and new restrictions from Scottish Natural Heritage put extra conditions on a licence for such a scheme, but it’s important it’s back fully up and running again soon and expanded across the region.

“I tried to introduce a local by-law when I was a councillor making it an offence to feed the gulls and had every legal argument thrown at me to stop, including claims that the current littering laws were enough but that’s simply not the case.

“When I speak to Parliamentary colleagues it’s clear the problems are far from unique to Dumfries and Galloway, and local authorities across Scotland are struggling to find solutions.

“It’s time for the Scottish Government to revisit their promise of 13 years ago and bring people together again to come up with a far better national response.”