Popular seaside resorts are offering residents £2,000 grants to tackle the scourge of ‘hooligan’ seagulls.
The gulls of Scarborough, Whitby and Filey in Yorkshire are infamous for stealing visitors’ food, building foul-smelling nests and covering windows in droppings.
Tourist chiefs have urged visitors not to feed the birds because they damage roofs by pecking away lead as they search for insects under the tiles, reports MirrorOnline.
Council chiefs are now offering grants to make properties less attractive to the gulls in a bid to reduce bird droppings on pavements.
Households and businesses will be given half the cost of netting, spikes and repellent gel to deter gulls building nests.
Herring gulls are bigger than the other common variety, the lesser black-backed gull, and cause more problems. Gulls are protected by law so it is illegal to injure or kill them or damage or destroy an active nest or its contents.
Councils have limited powers to control them.
Marian Spain, of Natural England, said: “Populations of herring gulls and lesser black-backed gulls have declined significantly, to the extent that they are now both considered at risk. It’s essential that we do all we can to reverse this worrying trend.”
But experts warn the 60 per cent decline in gull population is based on coastal populations – and does not cover gulls on urban streets.
Peter Rock, a leading gull expert associated with Bristol University, found that Cardiff had 3,147 breeding pairs in 2017, up from 2,727 in 2004. This year Worcester had a gull population of 1,072 pairs, 440 more than when he last counted them in 2006.
Scarborough Council said work to protect homes from gulls had to be carried out by an approved contractor. “This is to ensure the work is of the required high standard to ensure gulls do not become trapped in the proofing material,” said a spokesman.
Herring gulls are large birds, measuring about 55cm (22 inches) from bill to tail with a wingspan of about 85cm (34 inches).
Herring gulls tend to nest in colonies and once roof nesting birds gain a foothold other herring gulls nest on adjacent buildings. If left unchecked, a colony starts to develop.