Silver Gulls, commonly known as “seagulls”, are Australian native birds that are part of our coastal environment, and as such they are protected under the Victorian Wildlife Act 1975. There are serious penalties for harassing or injuring native wildlife. It is illegal to kill birds, destroy their nests or eggs without a permit or authority.
In recent years there has been an increase in the number of seagulls nesting on buildings in urban areas, such as the central business district of Dandenong. Seagulls can breed all year, but according to the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) the peak breeding season occurs from July to October each year.
Contributing factors to increased bird numbers
Available food supply: Silver Gulls are opportunistic feeders, meaning they will take whatever food is available, and their populations can increase when an abundant food supply is available.
Available roosting sites: Available roosting sites in their natural habitat, beaches and headlands, are increasingly limited due to their current overabundance. This has caused Silver Gulls to find alternative flat open areas to roost such as roofs and car parks.
Lack of a natural predator: The Peregrine Falcon is one of the Silver Gull’s natural predators and would have assisted in maintaining silver gull numbers, however, due to overdevelopment and loss of suitable habitat the peregrine falcon is now rarely seen.
The presence of seagulls in the Dandenong CBD has a number of potential impacts, including:
•Blockage of gutters and flooding •Contamination of stormwater from roofs •Corrosion of metal roofs •Amenity issues involving unsightly fouling of roofs, cars, work and recreation areas •Creation of slip hazards •Animal welfare.
There are a number of preventative measures available to help reduce the impacts of Silver Gulls including:
•Restricting access to available food •Roof exclusion structures •Roof modifications to remove potential nesting sites •Frightening seagulls by using recordings that imitate ‘birds of prey’ •Removal of egg and nesting material from roofs but only with a DELWP permit to do so and using a licensed wildlife handler.
Available food supply: Silver Gull numbers can be controlled by reducing their available food supply. This can be done through not feeding them and ensuring food waste is not left out in yards, on the street, on restaurant tables, or in overflowing or unsecured bins. Any details regarding these activities should be reported to Council on 8571 1000.
Roof exclusion structures: The most effective long term solution is the use of appropriately fitted roof exclusion structures which prevent access to rooftops by Silver Gulls. When effective these structures will restrict Silver Gulls from roosting on roofs and eliminate the risk of birds becoming entangled.
An effective well designed system: • Is made with UV stabilised material, to provide a long term solution • Is taut and checked regularly to maintain tension • Will be installed by experience contractors who guarantee their structures • Does not harm Silver Gulls while excluding them • Allows easy access for rooftop maintenance activities • Eliminates access to the roof by Silver Gulls to roost
An ineffective design system: • Is made with inferior material, for example fishing line, which only provides a short term solution • Creates loose and broken lines that crossover • Allows Silver Gulls to roost on the roof through access points • Does not allow access for rooftop maintenance as inferior zip gate structures can corrode and fail.
The ineffective and inhumane use of roof exclusion structures is in breach of State Government legislation and is a finable offence under the Victorian Wildlife Act 1975.
There are a number of companies that can provide assistance with the management of Silver Gulls.
Elite Bird Control 1300 675 502
ANC Bird Control 0417 113 397
Local Wildlife carers can provide advice to businesses and assist with care of injured birds.