A council that has been banned from culling seagulls plans to record distressed birds to scare them from the area. 

Officials in Worcester planned to become the first English city to cull seagulls after 40 years. But they soon discovered that such an illegal action was against the law. The Wildlife and Countryside act protects seagulls. 

Instead, officers from the council want to record seagulls in distress so they can be discouraged. They have been known to dive bomb pedestrians and steal food.   

Since then, the council revealed they would be investing £60,000 of taxpayers’ cash, likely to rise to £74,500 in 2022, exploring other options.

These ideas included investing in a cherry picker and lasers to help seagull nests be destroyed on tall buildings.

Now, the authority is looking at a number new ideas. This includes the playing of recordings of distress calls from gulls in an attempt to scare them away.

Andy Stafford, Worcester City Council’s chairman of the environment committee, stated that “there are only a handful of gulls left” at this time of the year.

“But, everyone in the city knows that they become a pest when they return in spring for nesting season. In some cases, they pose a threat to public safety and health.

Officials in Worcester are seeking to take action against rogue flocks of seagulls that have been attacking members of the public

Officials in Worcester are looking to take action against the rogue seagull flocks that have been attacking members and guests of the public 

Large numbers of gulls live permanently in the town which is more than 30 miles from tidal sections of the River Severn

The town is home to large numbers of gulls and is located more than 30 miles from the River Severn’s tidal sections.

Officials are seeking innovative ways to reduce the number of gulls in the area but are precluded from culling them under wildlife laws

Officials are trying to find innovative ways of decreasing the number of gulls within the area, but are not allowed to cull them under wildlife laws.

Increasing numbers of seagulls have been living and thriving in urban areas many miles from the nearest sea, swapping a seafood diet for one of waste food

Seagulls are increasingly finding their way to urban areas far from the nearest ocean. They have become a more successful species, thriving and living in cities that are miles away from the nearest sea.

The seagulls are believed to have continued up the River Severn in the hunt for food before settling in Worcester

It is believed that the seagulls continued their hunt for food up the River Severn before they settled in Worcester. 

‘Earlier this year we doubled the budget to tackle the problems they cause to £60,000 and now is the time when we have to start planning for their return, so that we make sure there are fewer breeding pairs in 2022.’

Local residents consider the idea of playing the sounds of seagulls in the city’s landlocked city ‘bizarre and impractical’.

Felicity Shaw, 41-year-old mother-of-one, lives near the city center and said that the birds have been causing misery in the lives of residents for years.

She stated that she was able to see the problems these birds can cause, and suggested that distress calls be used. This is the strangest thing I’ve ever heard.

“Surely it’s going a hassle and impractical to emit these terrible squawking sounds off our rooftops.

“How in the world would that work?” Are we going have music festival speakers mounted on top the cathedral that blast out bird sounds at high volume?

It just sounds weird.

Brian Toye (55-year-old supermarket worker) said: “I didn’t think that this council could come upwith many more birdbrained ideas, but this one is the best.

“Something has to be done but I’m glad they’re at least exploring options.

Officials are examining whether playing audio of seagulls in distress is enough to ward off the birds from the area

Officials are looking into whether it is possible to prevent seagulls from returning to the area by playing distress audio.

People from around the country have been complaining about the threat posed by seagulls

Seagulls have been a source of concern for many people across the country.

“I would love to hear how they propose to play sounds seagulls – I’m sick of hearing fake birds over the real ones.”

Experts suggest that seagulls should be renamed to ‘urban gulls.  

Scientists are proposing to rename seagulls “urban gulls” after discovering that they spend more time hunting food in cities than on the coast.

According to the RSPB, there is no one species of seagull. The term is an informal way to refer to all species that are part of the gull family.

Anouk Spelt is a biologist at Bristol University. He pushed for the change of name after a study showed that the birds’ foraging times were timed to match human schedules. They also discovered that school breaks are the best time to hunt for food.

She said, “You can’t really pronounce the name “seagull” anymore. You just call them “gulls” and the ones in Bristol we’re actually trying call “urban gulls”.

“In a previous study, we found that our gulls spend most of their time in the city and don’t go to sea.”

These comments follow the installation of GPS tracker backpacks by Bristol researchers to 12 black-backed gulls in order to track their movements throughout the day.

In addition, the team observed the number of gulls who visited three different locations across the city — which were a public park, a school and a waste centre.

The team found that the birds’ foraging patterns were closely matched to the timing of school breaks as well as the opening and closing times of the waste centre.

Whereas their activity in the public park appeared to correspond with the availability of natural food sources — such as insects and earthworms.

The findings suggest that gulls have the flexibility to adapt their foraging behaviour to best benefit from human schedules — and allow them to thrive in cities.

Anouk Spelt, a paper author and biologist at the University of Bristol, stated that the first day at the school was a great one. The students were excited to tell us all about the gulls that visited their school at lunchtime.

Our data showed that gulls are not only present in large numbers at lunchtime to eat leftovers,” she explained.

The birds also appeared “just before the school started and during the first break when students had their snack.”

Ms Spelt noted that gulls were also present at the waste centre in greater numbers on weekdays, when the centre was open, and trucks were unloading food waste.

“Although everyone has seen gulls steal food from people in parks,” said the author. “Our gulls went to park most of the morning, even though they were often present.”

“This could be because earthworms or insects are more prevalent in the early hours.”

“With this study in Bristol, we have shown that gulls can adapt their foraging schedules to make the most of food resources depending upon their availability,” said Shane Windsor, paper author and bird flight expert.

“Some gulls use all three feeding areas in one day, suggesting that they may track their energy intake to optimize their energy intake.”

These results demonstrate the behavioural flexibility of gulls, their ability to adapt to urban environments and the time schedules of urban life. 

The new action plan also proposes three experimental gull nest exclusion zones within the city center.

With a range of measures taken to achieve this goal, the plan is to ensure that there are no nesting birds in these areas.

This includes installing spikes and netting at popular nesting locations, as well a variety of activities that can disturb birds, such as tapping roofs or shining light.

Councillors may also consider subsidizing property owners to make their homes gull-proof, and campaigning to change national rules. 

Adrian Gregson is a Labour Councillor representing Rainbow Hill ward. He said that he doesn’t know what Conservatives will do these days.

“It has been a continuing problem, and this issue of the gulls does get heated on both side of the argument.

“But to call to play distressed gull sounds is clearly resorting in desperate measures.

“I haven’t heard of this method before, and it doesn’t sound very pleasant to me.”

Mike Johnson, a Conservative Councillor representing St. Peter’s, stated that there is clearly a problem with the gulls of Worcester.

“It’s not something I am very close to. But whether playing distress gull sound is the answer, who know’s.

Rainbow Hill Labour Councillor Tom Collins said that the problem isn’t going away. We need to work smarter, and not harder.

“I believe that the distressed gull sound is a new technology in which the council was offered a free trial. It’s unclear what more will come of this.

“I don’t think that this idea of playing distressedgull sounds, will be cost-effective – it seems it is a push with no clear strategy.

“But, we must look at many options – distressed sounds of gulls being one of them.

“The gulls don’t think stupid, but we must work smart to manage their effect on people.

“I will be watching with interest to hear if the distressed sounding gulls go ahead or not.”

“Obviously, if you play the exact same sounds over and again, the gulls will realize it is just a sound, and nothing to be concerned about.

“I believe that many businesses are trying different initiatives to support city centers like ours.

“You wouldn’t want distressed gulls sounds where you live,” so we need make sure they are placed in a safe place for following it.

“But, we can try new things.

Worcester City Council spokesperson said that distressed gull sounds should be heard in industrial areas, not residential.

“The purpose of this report is to suggest what actions could be taken next fiscal year. The committee will then decide whether they proceed during a meeting next week.

Different principles will apply to different areas.

“The Lower Wick industrial site is where the playing and distress calls of gulls would be done, along with the flashing of lights. Residents will not be disturbed by this.

“This is about trying new approaches. We have done a lot of research to see what other places do.

“It’s all about combining that information and seeing how we can accomplish it.

“We have had some success in installing gull-proof cages on the roofs at residential properties.

“For example, Britannia Square has seen a variety of actions, including the installation of steel mesh on top of buildings and regular flying of hawks. There are no nesting birds on Britannia Square.

“These tend to work but it is a combination if you do a few things.”

These gulls, pictured in Worcester, are more than 30 miles from the nearest stretch of tidal water on the Bristol Channel

These gulls were photographed in Worcester. They are more than 30 minutes from the nearest stretch tidalwater on the Bristol Channel. 

Seagulls can bring disease and cause physical injury when they dive from the sky to steal food

When seagulls dive from the sky to steal food, they can cause illness and injury.

Why can’t councils kill seagulls?

Seagulls, as wild birds are protected under the terms of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and cannot be culled or have their nests removed. 

During nesting season, seagulls can be aggressive when raising their young. 

Many attacks involve black-backed and herringgulls. 

Local councils landowners are advised by Natural England to  install netting or wire over ‘vulnerable roosting areas’ and to keep food storage and waste facility areas secure. 

Public members should not intentionally feed birds. 

Officials can remove eggs and nesting areas from herring and lesser black-backed gulls if they are a danger to public health. 

You can kill smaller black-backed gulls without requiring a licence. 

Natural England must issue a license to a local authority to kill herringgulls because they are on the Red List.