Eight local business owners are calling for a cull of seagulls which they say are pests in the Denmark central business district.
As carriers of salmonella, they say the gulls are tarnishing the town’s tourist image and their aggressive scavenging is unacceptable.
In a letter sent to the Shire of Denmark last year, the business owners said that unattended meals and produce were being targeted and premises soiled with gull faeces.
Food is regularly snatched from patrons while they are eating.
But in reply to the business owners, principal environmental health ofﬁcer Robert Ohle says a cull of gulls is a last resort and requires a Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions licence.
Applicants needed to show that all reasonable non-lethal methods had been attempted to control the gulls.
Food premises needed to take measures to ensure salmonella did not come into their kitchens.
“It has been observed at some premises that plates are collected only after patrons have left the table and this gives the seagulls the opportunity to get hold of food scraps,” Mr Ohle writes.
He further pointed out that rubbish bins should be sealed and provided a DBCA Fauna Note on barrier installation and scaring techniques.
In his letter, Mr Ohle said once food was unavailable the gulls would return to their habitat.
“Culling large numbers of seagulls will have almost no effect on the seagulls that are getting their daily food from those premises,” he writes.
Mr Ohle says new seagulls would come to those premises if they could get food scraps from tables.
He had spoken to two rangers from Rottnest Island where they dealt with a premises where 30-40 gulls would target a table as soon as patrons left.
It was necessary to implement more effective measure to get the problem under control.
Mr Ohle had also spoken to business owners in Denmark and was in the process of getting information on the gull population and activity in Denmark.
Seagull cull campaigner Colin Payne says the Shire of Denmark had the authority to cull the birds which congregate in groups of up to 100 in Berridge Park of an evening.
“It’s a no-brainer,” Mr Payne said.
“They are rife carriers of gastro bacteria and defecate on tables.
“They pinch food and people feed them.
“We’ve got to get rid of a big mob of them to stop them breeding.”
This article appeared in the Denmark Bulletin, 27 January 2022.