Gulls and Other Wild Birds

All wild birds in Scotland are given protection under The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended). Some rare, threatened or vulnerable species are given extra protection, for instance against disturbance during the breeding season – but this doesn’t mean that action cannot be taken when birds are causing a problem.

The Law on Gulls and Other Wild Birds

Under the Act, certain birds may be killed or taken by an Authorised Person under the terms of a General Licence. These Licences are in force to permit certain actions which would otherwise constitute offences under the Act. 

Birds which can be killed or taken by an Authorised Person, according to the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981:

• Great Black-backed Gull - Larus marinus
• Herring Gull - Larus argentatus
• Lesser Black-backed Gull - Larus fuscus
• Collared Dove - Streptopelia decaocto
• Feral Pigeon - Columba livia
• Woodpigeon - Columba palumbus
• Carrion Crow - Corvus corone
• Hooded Crow - Corvus cornix
• Jackdaw - Corvus monedula
• Magpie - Pica pica
• Rook - Corvus frugiligus

The owner or occupier of the land on which the action authorised is taken or their agent is an “Authorised Person” for the purposes of the General Licence.

The General Licence can only be relied on:

• When killing or taking of birds or destroying nests and/or eggs to protect public health, public safety and to prevent the spread of disease.
• Before any such action is taken, the authorised person needs to be satisfied that non-lethal methods of control, such as scaring or proofing, are either ineffective or impracticable.
• Where any action is taken against the lesser black-backed gull or herring gull, the person taking the action must advise Scottish Natural Heritage, as soon as the action is completed or by the end of January of the following year at the latest of the number of birds or their eggs taken, killed or destroyed in each month along with the reason why. The methods of control used against these birds in each month, and the locations of any such actions shall also be detailed.

Elgin Gull Control Trial

GULL CONTROL is to be extended to more areas of Elgin following a successful pilot.

Councillors approved the expansion of the 2019 trial project to areas in Elgin identified under the LOIP – Moray Community Planning partnership’s Local Outcomes Improvement Plan. It means that those living in the centre of Elgin, New Elgin, Ashgrove, Pinefield and Kingsmills/Lesmurdie can benefit from gull nest and egg removal, including Moray Council tenants, those who live in housing association properties, and private homeowners.

Non-residential council buildings including some schools within the LOIP areas will also be included, as well as the Old Cemetery on Linkwood Road. A map of all eligible areas is available on Moray Council’s website.

Work, funded by the Elgin Common Good Fund, will be carried out by an appointed licensed contractor, Specialist Vermin Control, beginning late March and running until the end of the nesting season at the end of July.

Residents in these areas can notify the Council about any gulls nests on roofs either by completing the request form and sending it to elgingulls@moray.gov.uk , or alternatively can call call the dedicated phone number for the Contractor 07564 768581. Licence agreements do not allow for hatched chicks or adults to be removed, only live nests and eggs, so it’s important to notify the contractor immediately as nests begin to be formed.

Acting Head of Housing and Property, Moray Macleod, said: “The first year trial of this gull control programme in the centre of Elgin was successful, with a reduction in the number of young gulls, so we know it works. This year, the programme will be widened to other LOIP areas within Elgin and we expect to see marked benefits for residents and users of other non-domestic public facilities. It can take up to four or five years for the full benefits to be recognised due to natural behaviours of the gull population.

“Community planning is about public services working together with the community to plan and deliver services that will improve long term outcomes for people. This will hopefully make a difference to residents in these areas during the year.”

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Advice for Residents on Sea Gulls PDF

Gulls and Other Wild Birds Information Sheet - Moray Council PDF

Gulls and Licensing Information Sheet - Scottish Natural Heritage PDF

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