Although more gulls are nesting on the roofs of seaside towns,overall the UK gull population has been going down. Like all other wild birds, gulls are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, making it an offence to intentionally injure or kill any gull, or to take, damage or destroy an active nest or its contents.
However, licences issued by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) allow control measures to be taken where there are public health or public safety concerns. The law does not permit control measures for gulls if they are causing noise nuisance or simply damaging property. When gulls are fed regularly it creates an artificially high population and encourages further breeding pairs to take up residence in the area.
You are strongly advised not to feed the seagulls as this will not only increase the seagull population but will also cause unnecessary annoyance to neighbours. The possibility of introducing a byelaw making it an offence to feed seagulls has been investigated and the Home Office has indicated that feeding seagulls does not merit criminal sanctions.
Herring gulls especially like nesting on flat rooftops, chimneys and gullies in sloping roofs. Eggs are laid from May (usually two or three in each nest). The eggs take about three weeks to hatch. The first chicks are seen in June. It is quite common for young gulls to fall down chimneys, or off roofs, into gardens or onto the road. Gulls see humans as a threat and will dive towards humans who go near their young. Normally they swoop close but do not hit you.
Information for property owners
There are certain measures property owners can take in relation to the birds nesting. Please see our information leaflet, which will also be delivered to every address in the DT7 area. It includes information on the law relating to wild birds, and ways to deter seagulls from nesting on property.