THE seagull population in Worcester has fallen, but tourism chiefs say more needs to be done to rid the city of the menace.

Worcester Tourism Association says firms are approaching them about the birds which are widely disliked because of their constant screeching, scavenging of food and even attacks on people.

But the man in charge of reducing their numbers says nesting pairs in the city have fallen from 400 in 2006 to fewer than 300 today as new ways are found to control them.

Worcester City Council budgets between £5,000 and £8,000 per year to deal with the problem.

“Businesses, including hotels and shops, are coming to us about the problem, particularly in the Broad Street area,” said Tourism Association secretary Jo Rammell.

“Some say they watch the seagulls lying in wait for their food.

“One shop owner has watched one swoop down and grab food from someone’s hand.”

She said the presence of seagulls was a “recurring comment” by those visiting the city.

But Andy Staples, of Red Kite Pest Control which has treated the seagulls on behalf of the council since 2006, says new techniques to stem numbers are working.

“The last two years certainly it has gone down,” said Mr Staples. “I’m hoping for the same this year.

“We use dummy eggs now to control numbers.

“I oiled them at first which stops them hatching.

“Now I use sand-filled plastic eggs in their place.”

He said seagulls pair for life but this scheme tricks the birds into wasting their time with the fake eggs, preventing a new generation of the gulls.

Councillor Roger Knight, who fought to keep numbers down during his role as cabinet member for the cleaner and greener city portfolio, believes the work to reduce numbers is worthwhile.

“It’s good news,” he said.

“If we could address the problem of people dropping food on the pavement and in parks then it would also help keep numbers down. The less food that’s discarded the better for Worcester.”

In the past few weeks, Cheltenham Borough Council has started its annual egg oiling programme to help control the town’s urban gull population.

Herefordshire Council, meanwhile, has appointed a specialist contractor to carry out humane nest and egg clearances until August.