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Exclusive: Worcester winning the seagull war
PESKY seagulls in Worcester are finally being ridden from the city - with the numbers plunging 23 per cent to a record low.
Your Worcester News can reveal how a radical 'fake egg' project is fooling hundreds of gulls, leading to a rapid decline in numbers.
The number of actual nesting pairs in the city has fallen by 100 over the last two years to just 320, the lowest figure on record.
Back in 2007 the figure was close to 700, with ravenous seagulls snacking on discarded food and using Worcester as a dumping ground.
Worcester City Council spends around £5,000 a year trying to reduce the problem by enlisting outside experts to bring down numbers.
Back in 2012 Red Kite Pest Control, based in Alfrick, planted 400 fake eggs in nests located on city roofs so seagulls would not fly down and lay a real one.
During the whole of 2013, 320 real nesting pairs were found in Worcester, compared to 420 during 2011.
The breakthough has been described as "very pleasing", but the public are being urged to avoid feeding them or dropping litter in the hope it can now drop further.
The fake eggs tactic, which was originally launched in 2006 when 200 of them were placed on roofs, is going to continue in beefed-up form due to the results.
Councillor Simon Cronin, who is leading a review of the city centre, said: "It's very pleasing but the end result of this has to be to try and remove them completely.
"I'm very keen to get the entire community to give their evidence to the city council and report what they see so they can help us tackle this."
Councillor Roger Knight, Worcester's former enviromental chief, said: "What this shows is that it's been remarkably effective - it's very good news.
"It's even better when you think that if we took no action at all, we could expect an increase of 30 per cent a year.
"If we can stop feeding them it would also make a difference."
The number of nesting pairs in Blackpole, a notorious hotspot for gulls due to one of the country's busiest KFC restaurants being located there, stands at 90, compared to 114 in 2011.
The city council used to approve the oiling of eggs to prevent them hatching, but dumped that practise after it became largely ineffective.
It could apply for Home Office permission to destroy birds, but approval is very dificult to obtain and usually leads to fierce opposition, leaving fake eggs as the preferred option.
David Sutton, operations manager at the council, said: "These latest figures are encouraging and show that the measures we are taking locally are having an effect. "However we are mindful of the fact this is a national issue which needs to be tackled on a number of levels – there is no short-term fix."