SEAGULLS are choosing Hereford over the Mediterranean – but numbers are reducing according to Herefordshire Council.

While traditionally many of Hereford's "urban gulls" migrate to Southern Europe in the winter months, Herefordshire Council says this trend is changing.

An increasing number of gulls are now instead choosing to “take their chances” by overwintering in the city.

Over the past six years, a specialist contractor has been appointed to carry out nest and egg clearance during the April to August nesting season in Hereford to control numbers.

Now, residents are being urged to support the council's ongoing campaign to tackle this urban seagull population by making sure food waste is left out of the birds' reach.

Marc Willimont, head of environmental health and development management, said: “The programme of gull control is going successfully, with the Hereford population gradually decreasing. We would especially like to thank Hereford City Council, which has again agreed to fund this programme to keep it free to both the public and business”.

“It would help us if both businesses and the public could report where gulls are nesting so that we can direct our contractors to relevant locations. This year we are also making a particular effort to engage with our city centre shops and offices, hoping to get access to shop roofs for the first time.”

Herefordshire Council says live birds and chicks are never harmed as part of the gull control work and RSPB guidance is always adhered to.

When Hereford’s control programme first started, it was independently estimated that the city gull population was as high as 500 breeding pairs.

Six years later, the colonies seem to have reduced to between 300 and 400 breeding pairs.

Herefordshire Council estimates that if the control programme had not been put in place from 2008, the increase per year would have given Hereford a possible population of between about 700 to 1,500 pairs.

That number would be in line with the growth rates experienced by some other councils – especially those who have chosen not to act or who have deployed alternative and perhaps less successful solutions.

At the end of the year, the council will hold its annual stakeholder forum when population data is reviewed and decisions are made about future control methods.