THE number of gulls in the city has risen by almost 150 per cent in the last 14 years, according to a new independent report.

A study by urban gull specialist Peter Rock estimates Worcester’s gull population stands at 1,072 pairs as of April – an increase of 440 pairs from 2006 when the study was last carried out and up from 227 pairs in 2003.

This means the number of gulls has increased by around 45 pairs a year on average for the last 14 years and now with more than 1,000 pairs in the city, the gull population has been classified as a ‘large colony’ nationally.

Crude totals used in the survey show the gull population could be nearly 1,400 pairs with around 400 nests.

The survey was commissioned by Worcestershire Regulatory Services the body responsible for gull control which it carries out on behalf of the city council.

The city’s gull population is largely made up of around 85 per cent of lesser black-backed gulls with herring gulls making up the final 15 per cent.

Natural England only grants licences to remove eggs or destroy nests where there is enough evidence of harm to public health or safety.

Two sites in Blackpole are home to more than half of the city’s gulls, according to an estimate in the survey, with the city centre home to around a quarter.

The west of the city has around 100 pairs of gulls, Shrub Hill has around 50 pairs and Barbourne has roughly 35 pairs of gulls.

The report also says spikes placed on rooftops to prevent gulls nesting has been “ineffectual” as has the use of plastic owls to put off gulls from going near roofs.

Mr Rock also said roof netting can prevent nesting but many gulls just move to the neighbouring rooftop. Many nets also have large gaps which gulls get caught in causing them to die slowly.

Cllr Andy Stafford, vice chairman of the council’s environment committee, said: “The findings of this latest gull population survey are important because accurate city-wide information will increase our chances of being granted licences to control gull numbers by removing their nests or replacing their eggs in the future

“This survey also reminds us that lesser black-backed and herring gulls are protected species - and therefore any methods used to curb their numbers must in line with Natural England’s rules and requirements.”

Now general licences for removing eggs and nests and killing chicks without justification were scrapped by Natural England in 2019, councils now need to prove that gulls are a real threat to public health and safety to get one.