By-laws to curb seagulls

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BY-LAWS are being drawn up for local authorities to ban or restrict the feeding of pigeons or seagulls in public places.

Measures to tackle the problems caused by gulls were raised in the House of Keys by Onchan MHK David Quirk.

Infrastructure Minister Phil Gawne MHK, in his reply, said gulls could cause problems for people due to their great adaptability in finding food and their potential for aggressive behaviour.

Ironically, the most common gull – the herring gull – is a red-listed species of conservation concern due to a long-term decline in breeding numbers. The Manx breeding population has fallen by 28 per cent since 1969.

Mr Gawne said ‘I can confirm that officers within the Department of Infrastructure are currently developing model by-laws for Douglas Council with a view to other local authorities adopting them as a model for their own by-laws.

‘It is anticipated that these by-laws will prohibit or restrict the feeding of pigeons and seagulls in public spaces, which should go some way to addressing the problem.

‘However, these measures need to be introduced in conjunction with a well thought-out action plan that should include an awareness raising campaign by the local authority, advising on the new requirements and other issues, such as bird proofing.’

Mr Gawne said there were many simple measures that could be introduced to prevent birds nesting and roosting within towns and villages and his department was currently drafting a guidance advice note for local authorities wishing to implement the by-laws and take proactive action. He said local authorities may make an application to the Regeneration Fund for financial assistance towards the preventative works they plan to do.

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