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Gulls need Government response, says MSP

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By Fiona Reid
Annan and Eskdale
Gulls need Government response, says MSP

A NATIONAL response has been called for to growing gull problems in the region’s town centres.

South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has lodged a written parliamentary question “To ask the Scottish Government what action it plans to take to tackle the issue of nuisance gulls in town centres in situations where growing gull populations are impacting on the quality of life of residents.”

It comes after the nest and egg removal scheme had to be put on hold in Dumfries last year due to Covid-19 restrictions and new restrictions from Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) mean that “preventative measures” must be taken as a condition for a licence for egg and nest removal, meaning it has not yet been reintroduced.

In response to the question, Environment Minister Mairi McAllan said it was a matter for local councils when it came to council property and for individual owners when it came to private property.

But Mr Smyth said this is ‘passing the buck’ and pointed out complaints about the birds have increased locally in recent months.

And he believes the Scottish Government needs to play more of a role, including stronger littering laws that make it an offence to feed gulls and direct support to fund gull proofing on buildings.

The MSP said: “In 2008, then Environment Minister Mike Russell visited Dumfries promising to be tough on seagulls and tough on the causes of seagulls, but in fact, the Government has strengthened the protection of gulls and now they want nothing to do with tackling the nuisance being caused.

“Dumfries and Galloway Council has tried birds of prey to scare the gulls away and introduced the egg and nest removal scheme, giving people who have nesting gulls on their roof some respite. Obviously, this was halted during the pandemic and new restrictions from Scottish Natural Heritage put extra conditions on a licence for such a scheme, but it’s important it’s fully back up and running again soon and expanded across the region.

“This is a national problem that needs a national response. The Scottish Government must revisit their promise of 13 years ago and bring people together again to come up with a far better response. It’s clear the current strategy just isn’t working and is far from being tough on anything. Simply saying it’s up to councils and property owners is just not good enough.”

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