New survey maps out gull population across Worcester

 An independent survey of Worcester's gull population has been commissioned and published by Worcestershire Regulatory Services.

The survey, which was conducted in late April by respected urban gull specialist Peter Rock, estimates that Worcester's gull population currently stands at 1,072 pairs – an increase of 440 pairs from 2006, when Rock conducted a previous study.This equates to an average increase of 45 nesting pairs per year over the last 14 years.

In national terms, Worcester's gull population is now classified as a large colony (defined as an area with more than 1,000 pairs).However, Worcester's 1,072 nesting pairs are dwarfed by gull populations in cities such as Gloucester (2,890 pairs), Bristol (2,495 pairs) and Cardiff (3,147 pairs).

Lesser Black-backed Gulls make up the majority of Worcester's gull population (84.9%), with Herring Gulls making up 15.1% of it.Both varieties are protected in law and Natural England, the Government's advisor for the natural environment, has expressed concerns as nationally these birds are declining in number.

Following the threat of legal action by Wild Justice (wildjustice.org.uk), a wildlife campaign group, Natural England currently only grants licences for egg removal or nest destruction where there is sufficient evidence of harm to public health or safety.

The survey results are due to be considered by Worcester City Council's Environment Committee on Tuesday, July 21.

"The findings of this latest gull population survey are important because accurate city-wide information will increase our chances of being granted licences to control gull numbers by removing their nests or replacing their eggs in the future," explained Cllr Andy Stafford, Vice Chair of Worcester City Council's Environment Committee.

"This survey also reminds us that Lesser Black-backed and Herring Gulls are protected species - and therefore any methods used to curb their numbers must in line with Natural England's rules and requirements."

Worcestershire Regulatory Services (WRS) has applied to Natural England for licences to allow for egg and nest removal in ten locations so far this year, and is assisting third parties to apply for a further two applications.

Worcester City Council will use the survey results as a basis to develop a 2021 gull breeding season action plan, working closely with WRS, local businesses and residents.

The full gull population survey is online at https://worcsregservices.gov.uk/media/5538283/2020-Gull-Population-Survey.pdf

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