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Tackle 'seagull problem' through other means, NOT 'license to kill'

This petition had 626 supporters

To the Scarborough borough council,

Please rethink your plan to hand out 'license to kill' gulls to residents and businesses of Scarborough. The license provided by Natural England.

All species of gull are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and the Wildlife (Northern Ireland) Order 1985. This makes it illegal to intentionally, recklessly, injure or kill any gull or damage or destroy an active nest or its contents. The herring gull in particular has reduced in numbers by 50% in the last 30 years which makes it on the RSPB red list.

This particular license will only encourage residents to shoot, poison or maliciously attack our neighbourhood sea bird. At Whitby Wildlife Sanctuary we work with hundreds of gulls from the Scarborough area a year. Illegal use of poisons are already being used by irresponsible people and the affect is very worrying. When gulls are under stress, they often regurgitate which leaves behind poison laced substances that is easily eaten by dogs, cats or even children. One such instance where we were called out to a poisoned gull, we advised the family to thoroughly clean and disinfect the area where the gull had been laying as there was a toddler playing in the same yard - a toddler could easily pick up substances left behind by a poisoned gull. There have also been many instances of people using firearms to shoot gulls and other birds. This causes a risk to public health and safety for obvious reasons.

 Gulls should not be killed simply because they are a nuisance or they cause minor damage to property, i.e. defecation on cars. This license will be used as an excuse for residents to kill because of those reasons. It will turn into a 'free for all'.

However, we do understand the need for control and we suggest the following:

1. Fines for feeding gulls. This would need to be made very clear through large signs, stating the reasons behind why tourists and residents should not feed the birds. Many tourists and residents feed gulls - this only encourages the gulls to swoop and steal food from peoples hands. Signs should also be printed on takeaway boxes. This has to be reinforced by the local police. People seen to be feeding gulls need to be approached and asked to stop or a fine could be issued.

 2. More bins. Scarborough and Whitby do not have enough bins to cope with the sheer volume of waste takeaway food packaging and rubbish during the busy months. The overflow of bins encourages gulls to rummage and scavenge.

3. Residents and businesses need to be provided with gull proof bags for their waste. Bin liners are weak and easily destroyed by gulls. Hessian bags have been trialled and have proven to be successful. Normal refuse sacks are put inside the hessian bags.

4. Education. Gulls are smart, opportunistic and natural scavengers. Residents need to be educated about the gull and their traits and what they can do in their own homes to prevent nesting and nuisance behaviour. If residents have pets living outside, pet foods should not be obtainable by the gull. Spikes on chimneys and roof tops will prevent nesting for residents who do not want them there. Wheelie bins should be securely shut and not overfilled. Car covers are easily bought to prevent damage to paintwork.

Gulls adapt quickly and learn where they get their food - from us. We are wasteful and messy. Rubbish on the floor and uneducated people feeding gulls. It's no wonder the gull chooses to live side by side with us.


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