Written by Calum Macleod
TIDY streets could be a more effective deterrent to Inverness’s seagull menace than culling, according to the RSPB.
The suggestion comes in response to a call for a limited cull by city businessman Charlie Barbour.
Mr Barbour, who owns city centre bars The White House and The Dog House as well as commercial property agency Barbour Commercial, suggests that destroying a small number of nesting pairs would make the centre of Inverness more attractive, safer and quieter.
Describing the birds as “noisy, dirty, aggressive” and a blight on the city centre, Mr Barbour questions whether the Inverness Business Improvement District (BID) policy of removing eggs each year is enough to permanently reduce the gull population.
“Whilst a cull of such birds is not a universally popular decision, I just wonder if there is merit in destroying say three or four nesting pairs of seagulls each year,” he writes.
“A reduction in seagull numbers would improve the city centre experience for visitors and that surely has to be a good thing?”
However, a spokeswoman for conservation charity the RSPB said that lethal control should only ever be a last resort, used only where there is a proven problem and other alternatives have proven ineffective. Instead, local authorities, businesses and individuals should tackle the problem by reducing the birds’ food supply by cutting down the amount of edible litter and introducing gull-proof litter bins.
Other non-lethal options include putting up physical barriers such as netting on roofs as a deterrent before the breeding season.
“We believe that gull problems in an urban environment are best tackled by reducing the availability of food and nest sites. If the features that attract gulls remain, any `vacancies’ created by controlling existing gulls will simply be filled by other gulls moving in,” she said.