Feed the bins, not the birds - campaign to reduce number of seagulls in Great Yarmouth
- Credit: copyright ARCHANT 2017
Feed the bins, not the birds.
That is the message from a council as it launches a campaign to help reduce a seaside town's gull population.
According to Great Yarmouth Borough Council, the number and distribution of gulls in the resort has increased as a result of people littering or deliberately feeding the birds.
While nesting gulls can cause a nuisance, they are legally protected as wild animals and the council has no responsibility for the control of urban gulls.
Their population in any given area is linked directly to the amount of food available locally, so reducing access to waste is the most effective and sustainable way to shrink numbers.
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The campaign urges people to put rubbish in the bins and not to feed gulls and features eye-catching stickers on litter bins in key locations, including the Market Place.
Chairman of the environment committee, Carl Smith, said gulls were a natural part of life by the coast.
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He added: 'What is not natural is the growth of the gull population in recent years, and its spread into more suburban areas, due to people not disposing of their waste responsibly.
'We have listened to people's concerns and investigated a long-term borough-wide approach to reducing numbers.
'While some want a mass cull, this would be highly illegal and studies have found that this would not be an effective solution anyway as the gull population rises or falls to meet the amount of food available.
'The only effective borough-wide solution is to reduce the gulls' access to food and we hope this colourful campaign will raises awareness of this message and build public support.'
Environmental health officer Jason Williams said: 'Gulls are intelligent, social birds who choose to nest together with close access to food and litter, which they correctly associate with food. If there is less food about, gulls lay fewer eggs or go where there are richer pickings.
'While there is no offence attached to the feeding of any species of bird within the curtilage of your own property, we ask residents who choose to do so to be considerate of their neighbours. Where issues of over-feeding are reported to us, we visit the resident to provide advice and have been successful with this approach.'
Window stickers are available for food businesses, and the council will continue to work with businesses to encourage effective waste storage and disposal.
In addition, a myth-busting leaflet has been produced and more information is available on the council's website to make clear what the law says concerning gulls, what the council expects of the public and vice versa.