Dartmouth Action Group Against Seagulls
The urban seagull nesting season is approaching and this is an opportunity to review the past activities of the Dartmouth Action Group Against Seagulls ( DAGAS) This was formed 15 years ago and suspended in 2012 having achieved a reduction in the resident herring gull population from 700 to 200. It greatly reduced the impact of seagulls on the life of the town. Some members of the public are vociferously against any control of urban seagull numbers by any means, but these are a minority and most residents support anti seagull measures so long as they are legal Herring gulls are partly protected by the Countryside & Wildlife Act 1981 but can be controlled legally and culled if they are a danger to the public or agriculture. The gulls are powerful birds which in the nesting season attack human beings and domestic pets. Their droppings caused damage to properties and motor vehicles and contain germs which can infect humans and have caused deaths. In its most serious form they can spread Foot and Mouth disease and Bird Flu.
They also scatter refuse in the streets and their noise can ruin domestic life and deter tourists from visiting Dartmouth again.DAGAS lobbied South Hams Council to provide seagull proof refuse collection bags and
these are now provided free to residents and have virtually eliminated the domestic refuse squalor in our streets. DAGAS lobbied the District Council to close the open yacht dumps on the embankment and persuaded the Harbour Authority to provide new ones on floating pontoons in mid river. DAGAS had Please Do Not feed The Seagulls tourist signs fixed on wooden benches in the park and on the river front, and notices on lampposts
As a result far fewer tourists now feed the gulls. DAGAS persuaded builders merchants to stock roof top ant seagull devices and many properties in Dartmouth have now
erected these to prevent seagulls perching or nesting on roofs . These and other measures halted the tourist supply of food to seagull chicks and a doubling of the town’s seagull population every 10 years. As a result Dartmouth residents have a more comfortable relationship with the urban gulls and the community has become a model to other towns from Looe in Cornwall to Aberdeen in Scotland. It is an offence not to protect domestic refuse from seagulls and if your neighbours are not taking sufficient care when they put out their rubbish for collection you should inform
them or report them to the council. Landlords are responsible for their tenants in this respect