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Wildlife Damage Management

Gulls

Gull photo from USFWS public domain photos

There are four different kinds of gulls in Alabama that you are most likely to encounter. The laughing gull is a year round resident, and you will find them near open bodies of water, parking lots, feeding at landfills, and maybe harassing outdoor restaurant patrons or fishermen with open buckets of bait. The other three gulls: Bonaparte’s gull, ring-billed gull, and the herring gull, are all migratory and arrive in Alabama during the fall when their northern water sources begin to freeze. They leave in the spring as the weather warms. There are other gulls in Alabama too, especially during the winter, but these are the three that you will most likely see in large numbers.

Gulls are federally protected, so options are limited when it comes to control. If the gulls present a danger to human health, a depredation permit may be requested through the Wildlife Service Offices of APHIS. Some professionals have been successfully able to frighten gulls away using shotguns, gas powered exploders, and alarm calls. Frightening and repelling by these methods are effective, but it must Gull photo from USFWS public domain imagesbe an ongoing effort. With a special permit, a pesticide marketed as Avitrol has also been used with some success to repel gulls from a limited area. Avitrol is a tool for lethal control and is also considered a repellant because a poisoned bird will flail about and scare away other birds. The use of Avitrol and other chemical agents can only be done under the supervision of an APHIS or USDA agent.

Ohio DNR image of porcupine wire installed on a/c window unit.

Exclusion is probably the best strategy for protecting your property from gull damage. In small areas, gulls can be discouraged from using roof tops and other surfaces as roosting sights with the use of porcupine wires or plastic netting.

Large areas (like a pond or a crop field) can be protected by suspending parallel lines of wire or monofilament spaced 15’ to 40’ apart at about 35’ above the ground. Larger gulls will be excluded by wires as far apart as 40 feet, where smaller gulls may need wires to be as close as 15’ apart to be discouraged from approaching. Non-lethal scare devices are also useful.

More Info
(From USDA: APHIS)
Damage
(From Canadian Wildlife Service)