Gulls, including ring-billed, herring, and great black-backed gull, are a valuable natural resource native to New York State that provide important recreation and enjoyment to bird watchers and the general public. Major breeding colonies of these three species are located on the Niagara River, St. Lawrence River, Lake Ontario, Lake Erie and Oneida Lake, as well as along the Atlantic Coast of New York. But at times, large numbers of gulls, primarily ring-billed, herring, and great black-backed gulls, create property damage and health concerns.
Large numbers of ring-billed, herring and great black-backed gulls are, at times, attracted to landfills as a food source. Landfills often serve as foraging and loafing areas for gulls throughout the year, while attracting larger populations during migration periods. Bird conflicts associated with landfills include accumulation of feces on equipment and buildings, distraction of heavy machine operators, and the potential for birds to transmit disease to workers. In addition, gulls often carry waste off site, resulting in the accumulation of feces and the deposition of garbage on surrounding industrial and residential areas creating a nuisance and potential health risk.
Roof-top colonies of nesting gulls can cause damage to structures by contamination with large amounts of fecal droppings. Accumulated bird droppings can reduce the functional life of some building roofs by 50%. Corrosion damage to metal structures and painted finishes can occur due to the high concentration of uric acid in bird droppings. In addition, gulls transport large amounts of nest material and food remains to the roof-tops which can obstruct roof drainage systems and lead to structural damage.
All gull species, including ring-billed, herring and great black-backed gull, are protected by Federal and State laws and regulations. In New York State, management responsibility for gulls is shared by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). Under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act it is illegal to kill, sell, purchase, or possess migratory birds or their parts (feathers, nests, eggs, etc.) except as permitted by regulations adopted by USFWS and DEC.
New York State General Depredation Permit (GDP) for Take of Gulls (PDF, 46kb) - DEC's GDP, specifying terms and conditions for its use.
More about Nuisance Gulls:
- Gull Depredation Permit Questions and Answers - Questions and answers about the general depredation permit for taking of gulls.