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 Moray Council has no statutory duty to take action against gulls and cannot force the owners or occupiers of buildings to take appropriate action to reduce gull numbers. However, where the Council is the occupier of a property where gulls are causing nuisance the Council does have a responsibility to resolve the issue

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.

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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