Seagulls - calls to bring in the the navy

OK, that’s an exaggeration, but 250 people have recently signed a petition calling for ‘something to be done’ about the seagull problem in Aberystwyth where the gulls (mostly herring gulls to be precise) regularly rip rubbish bags apart and occasionally dive-bomb pedestrians to protect their young.

This is an on-going debate in many seaside towns, especially in the early summer months when young gulls have emerged and their parents are needing more food than usual as well as feeling a bit over-protective.

One thing has to be understood. Even if all the local seagulls were gunned down and their eggs oiled, as some people seem to expect, it would only be a matter of time before just as many were back on the streets again. Because the only reason they’re with us is that we feed them by kindly putting our bin bags containing food waste out for them to tuck into each week. You can hardly blame them - they must think they're welcome. The truth is that the seagull problem is the same thing as our waste problem. And it won’t be solved unless we reduce the reason the birds are here in the first place.

Ceredigion County Council have trialled bin bags made from two grades of thicker plastic but the seagulls just laughed and carried on pecking though them. Placing the bags outside only just before the bin men arrive helps (although the gulls don’t need long to get stuck in) but isn’t possible for working people. Using hard green wheelie bins to put the bags in, or smaller ones to separate the food waste into, is fine in suburban or rural areas but doesn’t work in town centres filled with flats because there isn’t enough space for them inside and they clutter the streets.

The latest idea being suggested is to provide residents with woven bags to place the usual plastic bags inside. Tried apparently successfully in Dartmouth in Devon, these bags actually are beak-proof and can then be posted back through residents’ doors to be used again the following week. Aberystwyth Town Council have asked the County Council’s Environmental Services Department, whose remit the issue is, to attend their next meeting in September to talk through this and other ideas.

If anything the problem has been less severe in Aberystwyth this year, maybe because residents have taken some of the measures recommended. In the meantime, as young gulls grow able to look after themselves and their parents chill out, the problem will lessen anyway until it all starts again next year. The question is, can we sort out what we do with our waste by then?

(Diolch i Harry James am y llun)