Bath to remove gull nests — but only when people get injured

A seagull stands on the wall on the Grand Parade in Bath, with Pulteney Bridge behind it
A seagull in Bath -Credit:John Wimperis

Nests and eggs of vicious gulls in Bath could soon be removed — but only when the birds have left people needing medical attention.

The Georgian city is a hotspot for the birds which are a nuisance to many — keeping people up at night with their noise and even swooping at people in the street — but they are protected by law. It is illegal to injure the birds, or to destroy their eggs and their nests without consent from Natural England.

Now Bath and North East Somerset Council has said it is applying to Natural England for a licence to remove nests and eggs during the breeding season. But there is a high bar for the council to be allowed to act.

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If granted, the licence would only allow them to do so when someone’s safety is at risk from the birds. Causing noise, nuisance, disturbing sleep, and even swooping on pets and people would not be considered enough of a threat to health and safety for the council to be allowed to take action — unless it has left someone requiring medical treatment.

The council’s cabinet member for neighbourhood services, Tim Ball (Twerton, Liberal Democrat), said: “We know that urban gulls can become a nuisance and even cause distress for people in some instances, however we are limited in how much we can do to solve this because it is illegal to interfere with the birds or their nests.

“We urge residents and businesses who are experiencing problems with gulls to ensure they aren’t making their roofs and gardens an attractive target by removing outdoor waste wherever possible. It’s also advisable if you’re planning property renovations to get professional advice on building gull-deterring measures, such as spikes, into the works.

“We will shortly be applying to Natural England for a licence to take action in cases where gulls are putting people’s safety or health at risk. Anyone who feels they are experiencing a serious situation of this nature is encouraged to report it to us.”

A bin in Bath with a picture of a gull on the side and a message in French saying: 'Merdi de ne pas nourrir les mouettes'
Bins in Bath carry messages urging tourists not to feed the gulls -Credit:John Wimperis

In July last year, a Bath woman urged the council to take more action after a “vicious attack.” She said: “I was attacked recently walking out of M&S with unopened food. As I was putting it in my bag I felt a heavy thud on my back. I only realised what it was when a wing hit me across my head and the bird actually bent over my shoulder to peck through the plastic and managed a bite out of the food.

“Two women checked I was ok as it was such a vicious attack.”

In September, a man living at the new Riverside development warned the gulls were “impossible to escape” there and he had been forced to seek refuge with friends and family. Urging the council to act, he said: “My health and wellbeing have suffered from lack of sleep, anxiety, and being unable to concentrate with windows open, even in the stifling heat of summer.”

Speaking at the time, local councillor June Player (Westmoreland, Independent) said: “Natural England is protecting all birds but who is protecting the residents?”

If gulls are impacting your health, you can report it to the council here.

You can find more information about how to “proof your roof” here.