Page last updated at 20:25 GMT, Monday, 8 September 2008 21:25 UK

Gull growth slowing down in Bath

Bath currently has 848 breeding pairs of gulls

The growth of the gull population in Bath is slowing according to a new survey carried out by the council.

The gull population doubled between 2001 and 2007 to 794 breeding pairs, but the recent count has established the 2008 increase as 6%.

The council uses various measures to control the numbers including egg oiling and replacing gull eggs with plastic eggs.

They also fly a hawk over the rooftops prior to the breeding season.

Councillor Charles Gerrish, of Bath and North East Somerset (Banes) council, said: "Robust methods are being used by the council to slow the population.

"However, the management of gull populations is extremely difficult because the creatures can live up to 35 years and breed for the vast majority of that."

'Quite a challenge'

Peter Rock, who has studied urban gulls and is a consultant for Banes, said: "Gulls are intelligent and have so far dealt with everything thrown at them in the name of pest control.

"This is quite a challenge which needs to be faced with sensible and acceptable solutions. With a population in 2008 of 848 breeding pairs, Bath can be classified as a small to medium-sized urban gull colony in national terms.

"Bath is unlikely to become a massive colony. I have been studying it since 1995 and annual growth rates are relatively low in comparison to some other colonies."

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