Call for drones to tackle seagulls

Credit: Press Association

Aerial drones could be used to tackle aggressive seagulls in a west Cumbrian town.

Copeland Borough Councillor Graham Roberts says the remote-control aircraft should be used to spray gulls eggs with a sterilising liquid to prevent them hatching.

Seagulls have proved a particular menace in Whitehaven over recent months with reports of birds swooping on people, snatching ice cream from children and dive-bombing shoppers in the town centre.

Drones have been used in France to tackle seagulls and Councillor Roberts believes it's time to consider this method of control in Cumbria.

"We have to do something about this. Yes, seagulls are a part of life by the sea but if a child has its eye pecked out we'll get the blame. "When you walk down the harbour with food they intimidate you and are scaring people away. This [the use of drones] has worked in France. Why not here?"

– Cllr Graham Roberts

Copeland Borough Council is set to discuss the seagull issue and possible methods for combating the birds later this month.

“We realise seagulls, whilst a defining feature of any seaside town, do cause problems. Unfortunately the law makes it difficult to cull them, as they’re a protected species. It is illegal to remove nests and eggs or to kill birds because they are disliked, considered noisy or thought to be damaging to property.

“One major thing the community can do to help is to eliminate the birds’ food sources. Don’t feed them and don’t drop food outside. Placing extra waste beside your wheelie bin can also attract them. We’d also ask anyone who can, to come and ask for a wheeled bin rather than bags. They are much more effective at keeping the gulls out and where practical we will accommodate bins.

“As responsible property owners we try to make sure gulls do not nest on our buildings – and we would urge other property owners to do this too. Removing nests before eggs are laid or after the young have flown can help. Our staff can also advise building owners how to stop birds nesting there in the future. Spikes, mesh and other low-cost measures can be effective.

“We continue to survey and monitor breeding pair numbers and hope that, with a combination of the methods above, we can as a community control the problem.”

– Julie Betteridge, Director of Customers and Community Services Copeland Borough Council