“Feed the bins, not the gulls” – that’s the message to Worcester residents as the birds return to the city to start their breeding season.
The appeal is going out to shoppers, visitors and residents to make sure they dispose of food properly when they’re out and about, by wrapping it up and putting it in the waste bin.
Posters, advice leaflets, social media messages, radio adverts and giant signs on the side of recycling and waste lorries are all being used to get the message across.
“Dropping the remains of sandwiches, kebabs, chips and other food in the street gives gulls an opportunity to feed, and encourages them to come into our city,” says Councillor Joy Squires, Chair of the City Council’s Environment Committee.
“Putting unfinished food straight into a litter bin can also encourage the birds to try to pull it out, so our advice is to wrap it up before you place it in a bin,” she added.
Cllr Alan Feeney, Vice Chair of the Environment Committee, said: “Gulls are a problem in Worcester – they scavenge food, spread their droppings on our buildings and pavements, and they can be very noisy.
“There’s no one simple solution to controlling our city’s gull population, but if we all try to do what we can it will help.”
Worcester City Council is working with partners including Worcestershire Regulatory Services and Worcester BID (Business Improvement District) to raise awareness of the actions we can all take to limit the nuisance caused by gulls.
Alongside the “Feed the bins, not the gulls” posters, advice and tips are being given to residents and employers to help them to take steps to reduce the impact of urban gulls in the city.
- Dispose of your waste food carefully and responsibly, when you’re at home or out and about
- Ensure waste food is wrapped up before putting it in a litter bin or your home wheelie bin
- Don’t leave waste food hanging out of a bin
- Never drop your waste food on the floor
- Don’t overfill your bin so the lid can’t close properly
- Don’t feed birds in parks, open spaces or on the street
- Businesses should not leave waste out overnight, only putting it out for collection between 6am and 9.30am
- Businesses serving food outside should ensure tables are cleared quickly, and consider using parasols
- Use spikes, wires and netting on roofs (if your roof can be accessed safely) to deter gulls from landing
- At the end of the nesting season (usually September), remove any gulls’ nests and nesting materials from your property (if they can be reached safely). This can discourage them from coming back the next year.
The City Council has invested in gull-proof waste sacks, which are distributed free to city businesses by the BID.
Plans are being developed to trial new litter bins in the city centre, designed to stop gulls from getting in to pull out food.
The City Council, working with Worcestershire Regulatory Services (WRS), is also extending the egg replacement programme that helps to control gull numbers. The realistic fake eggs are placed in gulls’ nests and the birds continue to sit on them, without laying a replacement. As a result, fewer chicks are hatched each year.
Since 2008 the number of breeding pairs of gulls in the city centre has fallen from 317 to 192, thanks in part to this egg replacement programme.
Do your bit!
- Pick up a “Feed the bins not the gulls” leaflet from the TIC, The Hive, libraries and other locations across the city - or download it
- Download and display a “Feed the bins not the gulls” poster from www.worcester.gov.uk/gulls
- Check out tips and advice for residents and businesses at www.worcester.gov.uk/gulls
- Share the hashtag #DontFeedGulls and spread the word.
- Gulls have been populating urban areas since the 1960s. They are mainly attracted by the safe nesting sites on tall buildings and safety from predators.
- UK cities are typically 2-6 degrees warmer than gulls’ original coastal habitats. This means they can lay their eggs earlier in the breeding season.
- Gulls feed mainly on agricultural land but they are opportunist scavengers and will not pass up an opportunity to dine on discarded food waste.
- The majority of gulls in Worcester are lesser black backed or herring gulls.
- Adult gulls can live for over 30 years.
- Gulls are at their most aggressive and noisy during July and August when they are protecting and feeding their chicks.
- Typically, three eggs are laid in each nest.