Pest control enquiries soar during lockdown as nuisance seagulls become growing problem

Video report by Mike Griffiths

There seems to be more than ever, and they seem hungrier than ever - seagulls have become one of the biggest nuisances in Wales' towns and cities, and pest control experts have had a surge of enquiries to deal with them. During lockdown, gulls have been able to breed and roost undisturbed in areas such as car parks, shopping centres and sports stadiums.

An increase in household waste during lockdown has been an invitation for gulls and pests. Credit: PA Images

Cardiff Council says the last few months has also inevitably meant a rise in household waste which attracts the birds.

"When not sorted properly - waste is an invitation for gulls and pests." says Matthew Wakelman.

"The most important way that we can control it is controlling their access to food. So as I say, they will expand their flock to the food that's available to them. And they will nest multiple times if that food is available. "

Pest control company, Rentokil, is encouraging businesses across Cardiff to consider hawking as an option to deter pest birds.

More household waste attracts nuisance pests like seagulls Credit: PA Images

Rats and mice have also been able to breed undisturbed in empty office buildings - while the closure of hospitality businesses has meant rodents have been seen more regularly in residential areas as they look for alternative sources of food waste. 

Data by the company shows vermin related enquiries in the UK have increased by 22% in the three months leading to July compared to the same period last year. An increase in rodent activity could also be part of a longer-term trend due to warmer winters.

  • Gulls and the law

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

A licence can be issued permitting nests to be destroyed or even birds to be killed if there is no non-lethal solution and if it is done to prevent serious damage to agriculture, the spread of disease, to preserve public health or to conserve other wild birds. However, nuisance or minor damage to property are not valid reasons to kill seagulls.