Launching the ‘Don’t Feed the Seagulls’ campaign a few weeks ago, I was intrigued by the response from the public.

Many have rallied round to support Jane Wilson’s concept of raising awareness of the guzzling gulls, intent on swooping down on your raspberry ripple, or fish supper, as they patrol the Largs shoreline. During one dreich Sunday, I walked along the seafront, and realised that there were hundreds of the gulls swarming overhead. And there were hardly any holidaymakers about that day.

I think it is important to try and divert the seagulls to another area, and the setting up a feeding station elsewhere, as suggested by Martyn McCulloch of KG Hawks in Skelmorlie, would be a great idea in principal.

However, as Jane has pointed out, it has to be a multi-layered approach, from improved signage along the beach, to fast food outlets taking some responsibility by putting up posters, and improving their packaging, to making the disposal bins more effective.

It is interesting to note that other local authorities around Britain have been taking the matter very seriously with Aberdeen even publishing their own Seagull Survivor’s Guide.

The Largs campaign has already had a successful response from Helen Miller of StreetScene at North Ayrshire Council She is putting up more signs on the prom around the car park, and would like to see what effect that has in July, and the matter will revisited in August.

Jane Wilson has also spoken to Largs Community Council and their environment sub-committee have also agreed to support the campaign.

Regular contributor Caroline Le Good Morgan suggested to me a simple phrase for the campaign posters: “It could be a photo saying “enjoy your fish tea but don’t share it with me!” I quite like - ‘Don’t be gull-ible, please don’t feed the birds!’ MSP Kenneth Gibson has sent me some Scottish Government background information concerning what has been done in the past 15 years by seaside communities in Scotland to deal with the gull problem. All wild birds are protected by law in Scotland. Local authorities and authorised persons are allowed to control or manage certain birds, including herring gulls, greater black-backed gulls, and lesser black-backed gulls, for the protection of public health, public safety and to prevent the spread of disease.

Two years ago, the Scottish Government funded a study on control of gulls in Dumfries which provided a number of recommendations which should be of use to local authorities in their efforts to tackle similar difficulties regarding urban gull populations. Solutions which were utilised in the Dumfries area, included the use of falcons to displace nesting gulls.

As we know, it is not a new problem either. Even the 1966 Wee Paper newspaper find, as reported last week, had an article about the ‘seagull menace’ on its front page!

In 2004, following increasing political and media pressure, the Scottish Executive committed £20,000 to a research project ‘Review of Urban Gulls and their Management in Scotland’ to look at the issues raised by increasing seagull populations in towns and cities. The final report from this project, published in 2006, is available through the link -

The report gave a list of possible means of control though it stressed that more research was necessary. In their conclusions, the authors note that all potential measures “have associated practical, financial and ethical difficulties. For these reasons, prevention must always be better than cure.

In terms or introducing a hawk on the seafront, the Scottish Executive’s findings in 2004 stated: “In general, all those with whom we communicated advocated that birds of prey must be flown daily, over a prolonged period of the breeding season (to deter breeding birds)” Even a hawk, like Rufus, who patrols Wimbledon during this fortnight’s tennis extravanganza, helps to make sure the pigeons stay away from the green grass at SW19 - he has been a permanent fixture there for four years, and even has his own Twitter account @RufusTheHawk. If it is good enough for Andy Murray, Novak, Serena and co, it is good enough for Largs!

However, during a recent tennis match at a Wimbledon warm-up tournament in Eastbourne, a seagull came swooping down on Agnieska Radwanska, perhaps confusing the tennis ball for a piece of food, and it was a near miss.

Radwanska could have done with Rufus then!