By Rachael Grealish
Elected mayor of Copeland, Mike Starkie has spoken on BBC Look North about intentions to combat the problems with the seagulls on Whitehaven harbour, without aggression and ‘culling these protected birds’.
Mr. Starkie commented: ” We realise seagulls, whilst a defining feature of any seaside town, do cause problems. However at no point has Copeland Borough Council considered the use of drones or culling these protected birds – and we definitely have no plans to go down this route.”
Though there is no reported attacks from seagulls, Mr. Starkie reiterates they will be dealing with other issues caused by them: “The council has received no complaints about people being attacked by the seagulls in Whitehaven or anywhere else in Copeland, however we are contacted by residents about the mess these birds cause, rummaging through bin bag for food, and we deal with these issues swiftly.”
Though they have been presented as a menace by the internet and some UK publications, Mr. Starkie reminds us that they are a protected species and should not be harmed: “The seagulls are a protected species and therefore it is illegal to remove nests and eggs or to kill these birds. Using equipment like drones to spray nests with chemicals to stop eggs hatching is therefore illegal and has never been discussed or considered as an option for Copeland Borough Council.”
He assured everyone: “We have taken advice from experts in this field, including the RSPB to help reduce the problems. Everyone can play their part by eliminating the birds’ food source and not feeding the seagulls or drop food outside.
“As responsible property owners we try to make sure gulls do not nest on our council 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.” He continued.
Mr. Starkie concluded that a solution need not be violent towards the birds or costly for members of the community affected: “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.”