Licence to kill gulls welcomed by seaside councillor

Attacks by the birds on people and their pets have been reported in places such as Brighton, Cornwall, Kent and Cumbria

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The Independent Online

A licence that allows the public to cull some types of gulls is “what we’ve been waiting for”, a councillor in a seaside town has said.

Attacks by the birds on people and their pets have been reported in places such as Brighton, Cornwall, Kent and Cumbria.

Like any wild bird, gulls and their eggs are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. However, Natural England can issue a licence to allow an individual to kill the lesser black-backed gulls when other measures - such as putting up netting and preventing people from feeding them - fail, The Daily Telegraph reported. Nests and eggs of other species can also be destroyed by a licence holder.

Natural England said the licence can be issued in order to “preserve public health and safety” but stressed gulls could not be culled if they were simply being a nuisance.

Councillor Andrew Jenkinson, of Scarborough Borough Council, said: “This is what we’ve been waiting for.

“It’s too late to do something for this summer, but this is our chance to act now and ensure we are ready to act for next summer and finally nip the numbers in the bud.”

A spokesman for Brighton and Hove Council said: “As a local authority we will not be obtaining a licence but if individuals feel as though that is the best course of action then of course they are able to download the licence [from Natural England’s website] themselves.”

James Diamond, Natural England’s operations director, said: “Natural England provides clear licensing advice to local authorities and landowners on the actions they can take to manage potential gull problems.

“Where certain species pose a risk to public health or safety, immediate action is allowed. This can include removing their nests and eggs and, for lesser black-backed gulls, lethal control if necessary.”

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