Key Features of Gulls
Five species of gull commonly occur in England are the Greater Black-Backed (Larus marinus), the Lesser Black-Backed (Larus fuscus), Herring Gull (Larus argentatus), Black-Headed Gull and Common Gull Kittiwake
In inland localities, especially outside the breeding season, gulls often roost in many thousands on large bodies of water such as reservoirs or flooded gravel pits. Inland gulls are largely dependent on domestic refuse for food. Herring gulls and Lesser Black-Backed gulls are becoming increasingly significant pests as they have changed their behaviour over the last 20 years, to nest more and more on buildings.
Heavy fouling may occur on buildings used by gulls. They can also damage roofs by pecking, their nests can block drainage channels and chimneys and their aggressive behaviour during the breeding season can result in attacks on nearby humans. They will also take birds and small mammals for food.
Gulls have a distinct breeding season, between May and August in Northern Europe. The Herring Gull starts breeding when 5 years old and will live for up to 25 years. Normally two eggs are laid per season but if the eggs are removed they can relay several times that season.
Nests are usually made alongside other gulls in colonies and once a breeding site is established the gulls will return to it year after year. The numbers of breeding pairs on roofs in the UK is increasing at a significant rate.
There are several methods available for controlling problem gull populations and preventing problem flocks from settling. These include net prevention, point prevention and spring wire systems.
The legislation that dictates how you may address each of the forementioned species of gulls varies. In England pest gull/infestations can be addressed in order;
- To preserve public health or public safety
- To prevent serious damage or disease
- To conserve flora and fauna including wild birds
- To preserve air safety
- To preserve public health or public safety in food premises