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Dummy eggs plan to tackle seagulls

PUBLISHED: 08:53 01 December 2006 | UPDATED: 17:26 25 February 2010

‘NESTING SITE’: Gulls on one of the many roofs they populate in the coastal town of Aldeburgh

‘NESTING SITE’: Gulls on one of the many roofs they populate in the coastal town of Aldeburgh

SEAGULL eggs could be replaced by dummy eggs in a bid to reduce the bird population invading a seaside town.

The number of seagulls taking up positions on the high rooftops in Aldeburgh and then swooping down onto the beach has increased.

SEAGULL eggs could be replaced by dummy eggs in a bid to reduce the bird population invading a seaside town.

The number of seagulls taking up positions on the high rooftops in Aldeburgh and then swooping down onto the beach has increased.

They have become such a nuisance that numerous organisations including the town council, Aldeburgh Society, Aldeburgh Business Association, the RSPB and National Trust have met to discuss an action plan to curb the number in a humane way.

In the short term signs will be erected in food outlets, including fish and chip shops, asking the public not to feed the birds.

A range of options are under consideration to make a long term impact on ridding Aldeburgh of the problem. It is acknowledged that it is inevitable that Aldeburgh will always have seagulls, due to its coastal location.

But recently the birds have become bigger, fed on a diet of takeaway food, noisier, waking residents at 4am and more dangerous.

There were up to 30,000 pairs of gulls on nearby Orford Ness but the number has reduced dramatically, due to the site being opened to the public and the arrival of foxes, and many gulls moved up the coast to Aldeburgh.

They like the town's tall buildings which appear like cliffs and stacks of an offshore island but the birds are damaging the buildings by picking at roofing materials and building nests which block gutters.

Marianne Fellowes, chairman of the town appearance committee, told the town council: ''The seagulls are noisy, they have aggressive behaviour and there is fouling that results from the nesting birds. The experts say that they come here because the rooftops provide excellent nesting sites and they are free from foxes and rodents. There is good availability of food for the birds.

''Birds have been displaced from Orford Ness where the numbers had dramatically gone down due to additional public access.

''We can design buildings so that birds won't nest, by having sloping roofs, and spikes, wires and netting can deter them. But this is costly, difficult to put in place, and detrimental to the landscape.

''Scaring devices do not work because the birds get used to them easily. We can oil the eggs or replace the eggs with dummy eggs, plastic eggs partly filled with sand. There is a cost involved and a practical issue in doing that, but those are our options.

''After that we can apply to Defra for a licence to destroy the birds, if those options fail.''

There is not enough time to stop seagulls invading Aldeburgh next year, because in February they will be building their nests, and it is hoped any measures will have an effect in 2008. The town council is seeking advice from Gloucester, a town also plagued by gulls.


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