Published: 08/08/2014 14:04 - Updated: 08/08/2014 11:20

Don't feed seagulls Moray folk told

Written byHazel Lawson

gullDO NOT feed the seagulls if you want to stop what had been described as an epidemic of flying vermin in Elgin.

Last week the ‘Northern Scot’ highlighted the problem with the birds after Clarky Mitchell’s 16-month old daughter had her sandwich stolen out of her hands while eating lunch on the Plainstones.

Graham Leadbitter, SNP councillor for Elgin South, asked what could be done about the "winged terror of seagulls" at a meeting of the economic development and infrastructure committee on Tuesday.

Having looked at Moray Council’s Facebook page, he saw there had been 1,200 likes, 312 comments and 113 shares of Mr Mitchell’s comment on the bird menace, a response he described as "phenomenal".

"I think that’s a fair indication of how people feel about the scourge of seagulls in and around Elgin and no doubt elsewhere in Moray," said Councillor Leadbitter.

"Would it be possible to get a report back about the options to try and resolve some of the seagull issues in terms of controlling the population and what the cost might be associated with the different options, and see where we go from there?"

He added a falconer had been brought in at Peterhead to address a similar issue and that the service company in charge of Elgin Academy had also employed the same tactic.

Over the last week, Councillor Leadbitter said he had noticed the Tesco store in Elgin had put anti-seagull netting on the building as a preventative measure.

Jim Grant, the council’s head of development services, said most of what was being asked for would be dealt with through environmental health and it would be best for any report to go to the planning and regulatory services committee.

He added that officers were in contact with the person who initiated the Facebook comment and were also monitoring the situation in Peterhead.

Mr Grant said: "I know Elgin BID have looked at this both in terms of a falconer and removing nests, but they don’t have the budget at this time to invest in that, and it’s the wrong time of year to start removing nests.

"It is a difficult one, I’ve had experience in other towns with far more seagulls than we have in Elgin. Removing nests has a small impact in terms of population for that year.

"Proofing buildings tends to move them on to another building or another site but doesn’t get rid of them.

"The key to controlling seagulls at the end of the day is to remove the food source.

"That’s people who deliberately feed seagulls, but also the types of litter bins we have and the frequency of emptying so they’re not overflowing attracting seagulls and people maintaining their own commercial bins properly to prevent the food there

"If there’s no food source that reduces the number of seagulls far better than any scheme whether its pricking eggs, removing nests or proofing buildings."

He said he was happy to bring a report back to the planning committee on the topic.

Committee chairman John Cowe added: "The message is don’t feed the seagulls, because they’ll just come back and back again."

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