RESIDENTS living near Dorset County Hospital and enduring the constant ‘nuisance’ posed by a colony of seagulls are calling for action.
Dorchester residents living in Bridport Road and other streets near the hospital have launched a petition urging something to be done about the birds.
Heather Robinson, who lives on Bridport Road, started the petition – which attracted around 90 signatures – and sent it to local MP Oliver Letwin in a bid to get hospital authorities to act.
She said that people living near the hospital were being woken in the early hours by the seagulls and were having to put up with noise, mess and ‘aggressive’ behaviour from the birds.
Heather said: “People feel quite heated about it because they are being kept awake from 5am and the noise and the mess and all the other bits and pieces just makes their life hell really.
“It’s very much affecting people’s lives.”
Heather said the birds were posing problems for people eating on the move, with children as well as adults being encountered by the seagulls – which she said were becoming ‘more opportunist’.
She said: “They are extremely aggressive.”
Heather pointed to other areas of the town such as Brewery Square and West Dorset District Council’s offices at South Walks House as examples where a falconer had been employed to limit the seagull population.
She said that the residents were not advocating inhumane action to tackle the seagulls, they just wanted them moved to stop causing a nuisance in their lives and they were particularly keen to see other smaller birds protected.
Fellow local resident Lorna Low, who is also a member of the Friends of the Borough Gardens, said the colony of seagulls was growing year on year and she was aware of incidents involving seagulls in the gardens.
She said she also knew of people in the hospital itself who were having their sleep disturbed by the seagulls.
Lorna backed Heather’s view that the residents were keen to find a humane way to solve the problem.
She said: “We don’t want to kill them, we just want them removed.”
Hospital taking action
A spokesperson for Dorset County Hospital said: “The gulls cause noise and mess and we recognise this has an impact on residents as well.
“We really sympathise with residents as we find this issue very frustrating ourselves.
“We are limited in what we can do as they are a protected species, but we have taken measures to try to minimise the problem and remain committed to reducing the number of gulls and the associated issues.
“The use of a falconer has been considered but with an 11-hectare site this is an expensive option and we are mindful of our public spending commitments.
“Our estates team co-ordinate an egg replacement programme which results in over 100 eggs being removed from the hospital site each year.
“Real eggs are replaced with fake eggs as gulls tend to be quieter when they are nesting.
“By the time the gull realises that the fake egg is not going to hatch it is too late for a second breeding attempt.
“All accessible nests are then removed at the end of the breeding season.
“Our estates team work closely with environmental health officers on this issue.”