Don Foster MP

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Don Foster MP chairs “seagull summit” in Parliament

Don Foster MP has hosted a “seagull summit” for MPs and local government representatives from areas affected by the problems faced by urban seagulls.

Peter Rock from Bristol University, and a well known expert in the field, outlined the problems caused by urban seagulls that are faced by many communities; from damaged to property and noise to increases in vermin caused by pecked open rubbish sacks.

Mr Rock pointed out that data on the size of the urban seagull population was now very out of date but he estimated that there were now well over 100,000 pairs and that the numbers were increasing rapidly. He and others present discussed the methods currently in use to reduce the problems. However, with graphic photographic evidence, Mr Rock was able to demonstrate that techniques such as netting, spikes, bird scarers, imitation birds of prey and egg replacement had little of no effect.

The meeting concluded that there was an urgent need for research into what makes the urban gull so successful; research that would use GPS tracking devices on a sample of gulls over a period of up to 3 years to get detailed information about their behaviour.

Don Foster pointed out that his previous efforts to persuade the government to fund such research (which might cost up to £400,000) had failed and he was not optimistic there would be a change of mind.

It was agreed that affected councils, Business Improvement Districts and major companies (like supermarkets) may be willing to contribute towards the cost of the research.

It was agreed that Don would convene a further meeting of MPs to plan how this approach should be progressed in the near future

Commenting, Don said:

“For far too long we have been unable to find a solution to curb the growing problem of urban seagulls. In Bath and other areas people are being terrorised by these birds and the current control methods are simply not working.

“The problems are getting worse, and unless we understand what it is that makes the gulls so successful we will make no progress. Hopefully, by bringing interested councils and businesses in to fund research we will be able to find a lasting solution that can be used countrywide”

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