Date: 21 September 2021
For the last few years, the birds have been setting up breeding colonies on the roofs of buildings in the town’s central business district.
Once nesting, the native gulls cannot be moved as they are protected under the Wildlife Act – so it is vital for business owners to take action and set up deterrents before the birds lay eggs.
Department of Conservation (DOC) Ōamaru Ranger Tom Waterhouse says nesting season is about to start, as the gulls have been seen hanging around potential nesting sites and mating.
“DOC and the Waitaki District Council are encouraging building owners to act now to prevent the gulls from calling their roof home for the next five months.
“The best thing people can do now is check their roof and gutters every two or three days to see if gulls are using the roof and remove any debris that could be used as nesting material.
“People should make sure their bins are secure and should not feed the gulls, as this could encourage them to stay. They have not evolved to eat human food and it is not good for them.”
“The gulls are noisy neighbours, and their nests can clog gutters and lead to expensive repairs, so it’s cheapest and easiest to act early and encourage them to nest elsewhere.
“Luckily, there’s free advice on deterrents available on the Waitaki District Council website.”
Tenants are advised to let their landlords know as soon as possible if they think there are gulls on the roof.
Find more information on deterrent methods and contractors who can help.
While red-billed gulls/tarāpunga are commonly seen in coastal areas, they have a threat classification of 'declining'. The size of breeding colonies and breeding success has declined in the past 20 years. The birds typically nest in large colonies near the coast.
Clutches are normally two eggs (though this can range from one to five), which are incubated for about 24 days. Chicks begin to fly at about 30 days old but will stay near the nest to be fed for about another 30 days.
Threats the gulls face include predators such as ferrets, stoats, cats and rats, and fluctuations in krill availability (their main food source during feeding season) due to climate variations.
Tarāpunga are a taonga species to Ngāi Tahu.
Under the Wildlife Act, it is an offense to harass, injure or kill red-billed gulls.
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