Seagulls, known to bird authorities as “Silver Gulls”, are Australian native birds which normally inhabit the beaches and headlands of our coastal environment.
It is not surprising to find them in seaside suburbs like Frankston or Brighton. However, in the last few years the centre of Dandenong has seen a rise in the population of seagulls.
There are several reasons. The seagull population has grown so much that available roosting sites in their natural habitat have become limited, driving them to seek flat areas elsewhere. Roofs and car parks are ideal for them.
Another reason is that their natural predator, the Peregrine Falcon, is now rarely seen, due to overdevelopment and loss of habitat. Also, as seagulls will eat almost anything they can find, they can feed well on scraps and rubbish in places like Dandenong's CBD.
The presence of seagulls has a number of undesirable impacts, including:
Blockage of gutters and flooding
Contamination of stormwater from roofs
Corrosion of metal roofs
Fouling of roofs, cars, work and recreation areas
Because seagulls are protected as native wildlife under the Victorian Wildlife Act 1975, there are serious penalties for harassing or injuring them. It is illegal to kill the birds, or destroy their nests or eggs without a permit or authority.
There are some preventative measures residents can take. The most effective long term solution is the use of properly fitted roof exclusion structures, to prevent access to rooftops by the birds. These must be designed only to keep the birds away, and not allow them to become tangled or trapped.
A number of companies, such as Elite Bird Control (1300 675 502) and ANC Bird Control (0417 113 397) can provide assistance with seagull management.
Bird numbers can also 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.
For more detailed information, visit the Council website www.greaterdandenong.com and download the “Seagull Deterrent Systems Fact Sheet”.