An action plan has been drawn up to tackle the seagull menace in the North-east.
Aberdeenshire Council has announced a five-year strategy to deal with the nuisance, which gets under way shortly.
Life in town is easy for the birdsCllr Peter Argyle Aberdeenshire Council
Communities will be asked to play their part in tackling the problem.
The long-term project includes a Seagull Survivor’s Guide detailing what can be done.
The council points out that it does not involve a cull of the birds or their young.
Focus will be on deterrents, preventative measures and on nest and egg removal, which will have a lasting effect on the gull population.
Some towns in the area - particularly Peterhead and Stonehaven - were plagued by the birds last year through nesting and scavenging for food.
Among the problems were noise - raucous calls and squabbling starting at dawn and continuing throughout the day; mess caused by droppings, and the litter strewn from bins; damage to property and corrosion of vehicles and attacks on people and pets.
The local authority warns there is no quick fix and control measures need to be maintained for several years to be effective with the key lying in reducing the birds’ ability to breed successfully and limiting the supply of food.
Council services including environmental health, property, housing and waste have joined together to develop the plan which involves working with communities to improve the situation.
While the authority has no statutory duty to take action against gulls, it does recognise the need to protect communities but stresses that everyone has a role to play in preventing problems.
The link between food waste, litter and attacks on people and pets is an important one and the council takes its own preventative measures.
Infrastructure services committee chair, Councillor Peter Argyle, said: “Life in town is easy for the birds. Some people deliberately feed them and discarded food provides a feast. Our roofs are warm and chimneys provide shelter.
“The best approach is to take action to deter nesting, but the council has no legal powers to force owners to carry out preventative works nor to undertake treatment during nesting.
“We are reliant on the co-operation of owners and occupiers to firstly recognise the issue and then to take appropriate steps as early as possible.”
The council has an arrangement with a contractor who will carry out work to deter problem gulls nesting on domestic, commercial and industrial buildings.
Preferential rates have been negotiated for all property occupiers and owners in the region.
They will also carry out nest and egg removal.
The Seagull Survival Guide is being made available in communities and is also online at: http://bit.ly/GullSurvivalGuide
For more information on the issue, visit http://bit.ly/UrbanGulls