Measures to tackle gull problems approved by council

A clampdown on tourists feeding seagulls is planned in a Somerset town.

A clampdown on tourists feeding seagulls is planned in a Somerset town. - Credit: Pixabay

A clampdown on tourists feeding seagulls is planned to help prevent ‘vermin’ and rubbish being left strewn in a Somerset town centre.

At a meeting of Burnham and Highbridge Town Council's projects committee on June 10, members agreed to have new signs installed along Allandale Road, Grove Road, Poplar Road and Maddocks Slade.

Cllr Sue Harvey said seagulls were regularly being fed waste food by tourists.

She said: "Seagulls are often messy, unpleasant and attract vermin."

Cllr Nick Tolley said: "Everyone who lives round here knows not to feed the gulls, but something has to be done.

"You often see holidaymakers feeding the gulls, and I have seen some of them playing games by throwing chips at cars and watching them scrabble for them. I have seen residents get into fights with tourists because of this.

"Some fish and chip shops in Burnham are working to encourage customers not to feed gulls.

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"Gulls attract vermin, create mess, attack people and even affect our seawater quality. The biggest step to stopping this problem is educating the public.

"I think more posters explaining the issue could help with this - lets get them around all eating places in Burnham."

Cllr Nick Tolley also suggested low-cost bird-proof bag enclosures could be introduced.

He said: "The town centre is like a seagull playground every Tuesday morning.

"The gulls tear open the bags and enjoy a six-course meal overnight before the rubbish is collected mid-morning."

Cllr Helen Groves added: "I think signs and posters would be helpful, but we also need to talk to Sedgemoor District Council and the Environment Agency to get them involved in addressing the wider issue as a whole. We need their input too."

All species of gull are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, and as such it is illegal to intentionally injure or kill any gull or damage an active nesting site. In March a man was sentenced for killing a seagull which stole his chips in Weston.

Councils are allowed to use humane ways to curb the gull population, such as placing fake eggs in nests, issuing fines for littering, and contacting restaurants to keep food waste in locked bins.