A NEW bid to reduce the number of aggressive gulls swooping over Devizes is to be launched by the town council .

It is to ask businesses on the Hopton Industrial Estate and Garden Trading Estate to contribute towards the cost of bringing in experts to reduce the number of birds breeding and eggs hatching.

In the past hawks have been flown to scare away the gulls but this year the deterrence programme was stopped in its tracks when Natural England revoked all licences to take nests and eggs during the breeding season.

Town clerk Simon Fisher said: “By the time the licence was reinstated all chicks had hatched and fledged, thereby increasing the population considerably.

“Inspection visits revealed either empty nests which were removed or nests with chicks in them. Since the breeding season, officers have received numerous complaints from residents in this area of town regarding aggressive behaviour, high volume of noise mainly in the early hours and defecation by birds onto cars, houses, pets and people.”

It is believed that the gulls roost on local rubbish dumps but return to the industrial areas on a daily basis, hunting out food nd nesting on the flat high roofs.

The cost of six visits to remove nests and eggs would cost £4,410 and the price of hawk flying would be £3,250 for one visit a week for 26 weeks, or £6,500 for twice weekly visits. If the hawks flew once a week in winter and twice a week in summer the cost is £9,750.

Mr Fisher said that the company flying the hawks has said it would have a significant impact on the population but the downside is that as soon as the gulls are scared off they poo.

He said business will be contacted and asked if they will pay towards the bill. He said: “We want to have a meaningful impact on the gull population and long term be largely gull free in this area.”