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‘It’s nearly impossible to deal with the health risks and dangers posed by gulls in Nairn’

By Lucy Harding

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By Lucy Harding

Gulls can be a nuisance.
Gulls can be a nuisance.

Like it or not, gulls are a problem in our seaside town and for the five years the BID has been in existence we’ve been carrying out a seagull management programme.

It’s a complicated job. We engage with a company who can handle the removal of the nests and eggs. They then scope out the buildings to establish the best plan to ensure the most efficient removal and then we contact all the properties to gain permission.

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Once that’s done, we apply to NatureScot for licences for the removal. The law which protects the birds is strict. We can only apply for licences where health and safety issues are a concern, and they do not grant licences for nuisance only.

Timing is key. The process usually starts in February and is finished by the end of June. Visits take place every fortnight from the beginning of nesting and have been proven to stop the population from increasing year on year.

Whilst it’s time consuming, we were making headway – until this year, when NatureScot, changed the goalposts making it nearly impossible to deal with the health risks and dangers posed by these birds.

For a start, because of the changes, our licence applications went in later. Then, 58 were rejected!

Did we rest on our laurels? No! Several BIDs from across the north-east banded together and formed a campaign to get NatureScot to see we were applying for health and safety reasons, and we won - almost!

Within a week, we had formed a campaign group, held and emergency meeting with NatureScot and managed to get the permissions! However, it may have been too little too late!

At the end of May, our seagull control company scaled the many roofs, only to find that because of the delay, many of the eggs have already hatched. It means that this year there will be a higher number of fledgling birds in the town centre - causing havoc, swooping, and let’s face it, pooping!

Now, all we can do is work on what we do next year. The changes are still in place, so we are having to reassess how we address the problem. Preventing them from nesting in the first place is one way to do this, but that in itself is a huge task, but one we are ready to take on.

After all, when it comes to the care of the town and its people and also these creatures, who are just living by the seaside too, surely prevention is better than cure.

Lucy Harding is the manager of Nairn BID.

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