‘Gullbusters’ plan will fail, warns expert

The expert says the gulls will become habituated to the noise
The expert says the gulls will become habituated to the noise

An ambitious plan to rid Kirkcaldy High Street of menacing seagulls will be a waste of taxpayers’ money, says an expert.

As reported in the Press last week, the proposal – devised by councillors Tom Adams and Peter George – would use bio-acoustic speakers to scare off the gulls.

The aim was to trial the scheme in Kirkcaldy next year and, if it was a success, roll it out across Fife.

However, Dr James McKay, director of The Bird Control Company in Derbyshire, thinks the pair – who have have dubbed themselves the ‘Gullbusters’ – should rethink their strategy.

He said: “Regarding the use of distress calls being played to deter gulls, I believe this is a waste of the council’s money, and will have no noticeable effect on the gulls in the area.

“As professionals involved in controlling gulls on a daily basis (and for over 25 years), we have evidenced that gulls quickly become habituated to such noises and – often within only a few days - they completely ignore the calls.

“Humans, however, do not and the noise becomes as irritating and annoying for the humans as the problems caused by the gulls.

“There are ways to curb the gull problem, but playing gull distress calls is not one of them.”

The Fife plan, which is expected to cost in the region of £30,000 if approved, would also involve a licence to remove eggs and nests – a method that takes around three years to effect change.

In addition, a campaign would run in a bid to stop people feeding the gulls.

Cllr Adams said: “ Strictly speaking this is not the council’s statutory responsibility but to do nothing is not an option anymore.

“Do we have to wait for a child to be injured? No.”

Dr McKay agreed a multi-pronged strategy was needed to control growing gull populations but a long lasting solution would be labour intensive and, as a consequence, relatively expensive.

He said: “It’s better to not allow nests to be built in the first place by properly netting over roofs.

“Or, leave the nests and sort out the eggs by dipping them in oil, which prevents the eggs from hatching.”