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People being urged not to feed seagulls in new crackdown as complaints soar

PUBLISHED: 09:13 14 February 2019 | UPDATED: 09:20 14 February 2019

Great Yarmouth Borough Council is looking at ways to curb the seagull menace. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

Great Yarmouth Borough Council is looking at ways to curb the seagull menace. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

People are again being told not to feed the birds after soaring seagull numbers triggered a 100pc rise in complaints across Great Yarmouth.

The amount of free food in the Market Place is flagged as the main reason for their swooping activity with new solar bins touted as a possible solution.

Last year in response to a wave of seagull related violence hawk-walks were introduced to deter the birds, accused of muggings and pictured in posters wearing bandit-style eye-masks.

Discounted methods of controlling them include culling, fines for people who feed them, and the “oiling” or removal of eggs - with the council favouring a more gentle educational approach.

The new self-sealing bins compress waste and need emptying ten times less often than normal ones.

Seagulls are causing problems in Great Yarmouth. Picture : ANTONY KELLYSeagulls are causing problems in Great Yarmouth. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

Also they are foot-operated, hopefully encouraging people not to litter and would be hired out for a trial.

Papers prepared for Great Yarmouth Borough Council’s environment committee reveal the most complained about areas were the Market Place and Rodney Road in Great Yarmouth and Mountbatten Road and Halt Road in Caister, accounting for 37pc of the total.

The report says last year’s long hot summer contributed to the severity of the gull nuisance which peaks during June and July when they are breeding.

And while there is “no quick fix” better bins and the support of residents, business people and visitors are key to bringing about improvements.

Most of the complaints revolved around noise, fouling, and aggressive behaviour.

According to a 2016 report most of the birds were nesting in the port area and at Harfrey’s industrial estate and using the Market Place as a buffet.

The total number of complaints in 2017 was 18, rising to 41 last year when two seagulls were reportedly killed by people wielding walking sticks.

Complaints had come from all over the borough spanning Bradwell, Caister, Gorleston, Yarmouth, Hopton and Ormesby - although some were duplicates with 22pc of complaints having already been recorded.

All species of gull are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and it is illegal to intentionally kill or injure any gull or damage an active nest.

The law recognises that in some circumstances control measures may be necessary, however, simple nuisances or minor inconveniences are not legally sanctioned reasons to kill gulls.

Members were advised to continue the council’s strategy including its hawk-walks and ‘Feed the bins, not the birds’ campaign and to ramp up the educational element.

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