Page last updated at 13:30 GMT, Tuesday, 24 June 2008 14:30 UK

Summit debates urban seagull woes

Councils have been dealing with an increasing number of gull complaints

A national summit is being held in the south of Scotland to discuss the menace of urban seagulls.

The event is examining ways of tackling large gull colonies which populate towns and cities across Scotland.

The summit in Dumfries is considering the range of measures available to control gull populations.

Scottish Environment Minister Mike Russell is attending, along with experts and representatives from councils and Scottish Natural Heritage.

Urban gulls have become a serious problem for many local authorities who have been dealing with increasing complaints about large colonies in town and city centres.

The main concerns are the fact that they tear apart bin bags in search of food, leave droppings on buildings and vehicles and their aggressive behaviour during the breeding season.


Seagull numbers are increasing despite efforts to curb them

Dr Andrew Douse from SNH, is speaking at the conference, which is called "Gulls: Friend or Foe?".

He said efforts to deter the birds by erecting netting, making food scraps less available or bringing in falcons to scare them off had limited success.

"The problem is that all of these methods can work in very local settings but overall we still see a continuing increase in gulls in our towns," he said.

"There is a need to focus to focus on a larger, wider-scale solution."

The environment minister said he was fully aware of the issues surrounding urban gull colonies and was keen to find solutions.

Mr Russell said: "Seagulls are real nuisance in Scottish towns and cities. They thrive on litter and are known to remove waste from bins.

"Their droppings are obviously also a health hazard and they can behave aggressively towards other birds, pets and even people.

"Today's summit has been a very useful first step in helping Scottish communities find solutions to the problems they cause and our hosts Dumfries and Galloway Council seem to have a particular problem with the bird.

"There is clearly a lot of work to do but one thing is clear - we must get tough on seagulls, but also tough on the causes of seagulls."

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