Managing the urban gull population
Urban gulls can be a year round problem for the residents of Cheltenham, but they become particularly troublesome in the approach to the breeding season in early May. During this time the birds' activity increases, and they become noisier and more aggressive in their behaviour. The change in behaviour is particularly noticable once the gulls have laid their eggs and while fledglings are present in the nest. The majority of complaints we receive about gulls are during this period.
In an attempt to control the gull population and stop numbers increasing, we run an annual egg replacement programme. For around two weeks in May, we target accessible nests in the borough, remove the eggs from the nests and replace them with dummy eggs to prevent new eggs being laid. Many nests are reported throughout the year by businesses and members of the public and are added to a register of sites to be looked at before egg replacement begins.
Nesting sites can be reported to environmental health on 01242 775178 for inclusion on the next year's programme, although this is dependent on factors such as funding and accessibility of the nesting site. The continuation of the egg replacement programme ultimately relies on funding being secured each year. As a resident or business in Cheltenham there are steps you can take to prevent gulls nesting on your property. Further information on gull behaviour, lifecycle and control methods can be viewed in the following documents:
- Urban Gull Report – Review of Methods
- Urban Gull Focus Group Presentation
- Urban Gulls Action Plan 2013/2014
- RSPB Urban gulls briefing 2014