Gloucester council leader concerned about herring gull population


Laws in place to protect bird populations will lead to an 'explosion' in the number of gulls in Gloucester, a Tory councillor has said.

Gloucester City Council has worked to reduce European Herring Gull numbers in recent years. Government laws introduced in 2020 have made it more difficult to do this, said leader Richard Cook, who commented that the number of gulls had "risen year on year inexorably" in Gloucester.

Gloucester boasts a healthy population of European Herring Gull (Martin Webb).

"Natural England believes the population of coastal birds has fallen since the 1960s and 1970s," he said. "My issue is not with the coastal gulls, my issue is with the urban gulls in the city centre."

In the past, the council has used tactics including oiling eggs to prevent hatching to control the population. Cook said the council could apply for individual licences regarding gulls at a particular property on health and safety grounds, but that slowed the process and made controlling the population more difficult.

"If you've got 6,000 birds in the city, it's a drop in the ocean. It has no measurable effect," he added.

The government made changes to the lethal control of herring gull and Lesser Black-backed Gull in response to a fall in breeding populations.

Natural England said it was necessary to scale back the lethal control of the species. Its Chief Executive, Marian Spain, said: "I hope that by prioritising the licences we issue, we can ensure that action is taken where it's most needed while at the same time securing the long-term future of these important species."