While the council has no statutory duty to provide this service, they are fortunate to have an annual budget of £5,000 to spend on an egg oiling programme.
Egg oiling, is the most effective use of the budget, because it is a tried and tested method of preventing gull eggs from hatching. Eggs are treated over a period of the laying season but they are left in situ in the nest. Adult birds will continue to sit on the eggs but due to the oiling treatment they will not hatch. The egg oiling usually begins in May or June, depending on how the weather affects the mating, nesting and laying. The team visit the properties of people who have complained about problems with gulls throughout the year such as noise, aggression, faeces or damage to property This year the egg oiling started on 15 May and will take three weeks.
Sarah Clark, Public and Environmental HealthTeam Leader, says: “We do our best to control the urban gull population with the budget that we have. The only long term and sustainable solution is for residents and businesses to unite in their own action by gull-proofing their own properties, reducing the amount of food litter, and raising awareness. With that in mind, we have started an urban gull focus group and are keen to hear from anybody who would like to join us.”
Councillor Peter Jeffries, Cabinet member for Housing, Safety and Communities, added: “The main advantage of egg oiling is a reduction in the number of hatchlings. Nesting gull parents become aggressive and have often been known to attack nearby members of the public. With egg oiling the problem of aggressive parent gulls is abolished, due to the eggs not hatching, and no young being raised. However, there is nothing we can do about live birds; we can only intervene with the eggs. Controlling gulls is extremely challenging and relies on us all doing our bit to help control the urban gull population.”
Further information about urban gull control and the urban gull focus group can be found on our website (pages should be published this week). If you would like to join the urban gull focus group, please email the environmental health team on: email@example.com or call 01242 775178.