Are seagulls protected

Are Seagulls Protected in the UK

Seagulls are a common sight in the UK’s coastal areas and are known for their loud cries and tendency to steal food from unsuspecting beachgoers. However, in recent years, these birds have also started to move into the cities, where they have become a considerable nuisance. Many people are wondering if seagulls are protected in the UK and whether it is illegal to kill them in self-defence. This blog post will discuss everything you need to know about seagulls’ protection, their status as vermin, and the laws surrounding their control in the UK.

Why Are Seagulls Protected?

Seagulls have been protected under UK law for over 60 years, with the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 enshrining their protection. This act made taking or killing any seagull species illegal unless granted a license. The reasons for the protection are that some seagull species, such as the herring gull, are declining in numbers, and the UK has an international obligation to protect these birds. Furthermore, seagulls are considered an essential part of the UK’s natural environment, and their protection is necessary for maintaining biodiversity.

Are Seagulls Considered Vermin?

Seagulls are not classified as vermin in the UK, meaning they cannot be controlled using poisons or traps. However, they are considered a nuisance, particularly in urban areas. Seagulls can cause damage to buildings by dislodging roof tiles, and their droppings can cause health hazards. They are also notorious for stealing food, which can be problematic for businesses that serve food outdoors, which is why they can gain a reputation of being dangerous. Some councils have tried to introduce by-laws banning feeding the birds, but this hasn’t proved easy to enforce.

Are seagulls a protected species

Is It Illegal to Kill Seagulls in Self-Defence?

Yes, strictly speaking, it is illegal to kill a seagull in self-defence. However, if you were to kill a seagull while defending yourself accidentally, you must be able to prove that you acted reasonably and that the bird posed a genuine threat to your safety. If you kill a seagull without a valid reason, you could be prosecuted under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, and this could result in a criminal record and a hefty £5000 fine. It is always advisable to seek professional help if you have problems with seagulls to avoid any breaches of the law.

How Can Seagull Problems Be Managed?

To manage seagull problems in urban areas, councils and authorities may take various measures, including netting or spiking roofs to discourage nesting, enclosing bins to prevent scavenging, or using noise or visual deterrents. These measures can be costly, and sometimes they are only somewhat effective. In some cases, populations of seagulls may be reduced by using birds of prey to discourage them from specific areas. However, this must be done carefully under the guidance of a professional falconer. You can attempt to get rid of or discourage seagulls yourself, but this can prove challenging due to their persistent nature.

Final Thoughts on Seagull Protection

Seagulls are essential to the UK’s natural environment, and their protection is vital to maintaining biodiversity. However, their status as a protected species can be frustrating for those living in urban areas experiencing problems with the birds. While it is illegal to kill seagulls, if acting in self-defence, you must prove that you acted reasonably and that the bird posed a genuine threat to your safety. Various measures can be taken to manage seagull problems in urban areas, but licensed experts should carry these out. It is always advisable to seek professional seagull control if you have issues to avoid any illegal actions.
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