London, Aug 23 : Seagull nests will be destroyed in a pilot scheme to stop aggressive urban birds threatening Scottish towns and cities, it has emerged.
The plan was announced by Mike Russell, the environment minister, who has promised to be "tough on seagulls and tough on the causes of seagulls".
Despite criticising the "over-the-top rhetoric" of the minister's announcement, RSPB Scotland has said it supports the scheme as long as it is long term and sustainable.
"Seagulls are a menace to Scottish towns and cities. They thrive on litter and their aggressive behaviour towards other birds, pets and even people is increasingly problematic. Dumfries has a particular problem with gulls, with regular reports of divebombing," BBC quoted Russell, as saying.
"I even read this week about a young paperboy who has had to abandon his deliveries due to constant attacks from the birds," he added.
He said preventing gulls from nesting would discourage them from breeding in Dumfries and force them to look elsewhere.
Action will be taken next spring, in time for the breeding season, and will be led by local authority staff assisted by Scottish Natural Heritage.
It is legal for building owners and members of local authorities to destroy the nests of herring gulls and lesser black backed gulls, or even to kill the birds, if it is done to protect public health.
Keith Morton, species policy officer at RSPB Scotland, agreed that gulls could be a nuisance in urban areas, especially during spring when they were guarding their chicks. e said he believed attacks on members of the public and excessive late night noise could be considered issues of public health.
"You find these gulls making territorial noises in the middle of the night," he said.
"Some people are not concerned about it. Other people might be experiencing bad health effects from it. So I think there's a legitimate cause to control gulls in certain circumstances under the terms of the law," he added.