Action will be taken to help Moray communities hit with an “infestation” of seagulls.
Unanimous support has been given for a comprehensive list of actions to be compiled that the local authority can take to stop the gull menace.
At a meeting of Moray Council on Wednesday, Conservative councillor for Buckie Tim Eagle put forward a motion for officers to investigate options the council can take to target the birds and to seek financial assistance from national governments.
He said people in his ward were too scared to use their gardens because of the threat from herring gulls, and children were being attacked in the street.
Donald Gatt, Conservative councillor for Keith and Cullen, seconded the motion.
He said: “The seagulls are so intelligent they are working out how to get rubbish out of the seagull-proof bins.”
Graham Leadbitter, SNP councillor for Elgin South, highlighted action taken by the council in the town and other areas to remove nests and eggs before hatching, with around £60,000 coming from the town’s Common Good fund to finance the action.
He said: “It’s fair to call this an infestation.
“Hundreds of eggs have been removed from Moray Council commercial and residential properties and hundreds of nests as well.
“It’s very difficult getting rid of existing populations and that is going to take a little bit of time as the gulls live into their teens.”
Labour councillor for Elgin South John Divers said the town had been dealing with the issue for years.
“We have to highlight that people are feeding the birds from their kitchen windows,” he said.
“I think we need to take more serious action against these people and not just give them a warning.
“I had one constituent who had to have 23 stitches in her head because of an attack.”
Councillor Divers added Nature Scotland had become more restrictive with issuing licenses for clearing eggs and nests, with one needed for every property instead of an area and no second license issued once a nest is removed.
Claire Feaver, Conservative councillor for Forres, said: “There’s no point spending thousands of pounds moving eggs if you don’t prevent the gulls from nesting in the first place.
“Putting spikes and netting on buildings should be the first measures.
“There is a problem with litter but there is a large percentage of pig farms in Moray and it’s interesting to see how feed is distributed and the huge amount of gulls taking advantage of that.”
The report on how the council will help communities with gull issues will go to the meeting of the economic development and infrastructure committee on October 19.
Council leader Leadbitter will write to Moray’s MP and MSPs as well as the Scottish and UK governments to seek financial support to rid the area’s towns and villages of the gull menace.
By local democracy reporter Hazel Lawson