Porto's battle against the gulls has been going on for years...

Drones to help destroy seagull eggs on Porto rooftops

Metropolitan area gets tough with seagulls; considering fines for anyone feeding them

The Metropolitan Area of Porto (AMP) is getting tough on the scourge of seagulls to the point that plans to use drones to destroy eggs in the most inaccessible nests. 

According to the action plan for the control of the population of yellow-legged seagulls on the coast, the drones will be used to ‘shoot’ a kind of neutralising oil onto the eggs, to make them unviable.

The idea has been inspired by a similar plan carried out in Nice (France) where “paraffin or cooking oil” was used to “create a layer that prevents gas exchange between the embryo and the outside”.

As a result, the embryo never develops, but the mother is unaware her eggs have been neutralised, and goes on sitting on them (in other words, doesn’t lay replacement eggs)…

This is just one ‘pillar’ of the plan, explains Lusa, which has consulted the document. The intention is to roll it out in the municipalities of Vila Nova de Gaia, Porto, Matosinhos, Vila do Conde and Póvoa de Varzim, where seagulls are notorious for making nests in the most inaccessible places.

According to the document, the drone method “in addition to circumventing issues of safe access to the nests, reduces the risk of accidents, as well as the risk of seagulls flying off to lay new eggs”.

Roofs where access to nests is easy could involve “other methods of nest control” (such as the more ‘hands on’ removal of nests, or simply of eggs) but as this would have to be done every two weeks during the months of April-May, it may be simpler all round to rely on the drones.

The three remaining pillars of the plan are to “obtain a general license from ICNF (Institute for Nature Conservation and Forests) to control urban gulls”, “make the AMP less attractive to gulls” and “ensure the continuity of the action plan and periodic review of it”, says Lusa.

Only in extreme cases, like “extreme aggressiveness” would municipalities seek to obtain an exceptional license for the capture/ killing of these birds. The plan actually describes this potentially being required for “psychopathic” gulls, with aggressive and repetitive behaviours.

The action plan also advocates the preparation or revision of manuals of good practice for main locations where gulls feed (such as fish auctions, restaurants, boats and landfills); a correct management of organic waste, and an awareness campaign for the general public explaining why they must not feed these birds.

The possibility of implementing, “penalties” for anyone caught feeding seagulls remains open, says Lusa.

The plan “requires clear rules, consistency in action and transparency in the processes.

Priority should be given to cases of feeding in dwellings (windows, balconies, terraces), and in cases of continued feeding on public thoroughfares (containers with food for feral cats and/or seagulls, for example)”, adds the document.

Source material: Lusa