Seagulls are migratory birds that are found throughout Canada. However, they tend to nest in environmentally sensitive lakeside and coastal area with fragile ecosystems.
Migratory birds’ breeding grounds are often fragile, meaning that bird populations endure the consequences when their breeding areas are damaged. Seagulls enjoy legal protection from harm in North America and some European countries.
So, why do seagulls enjoy protection in Canada?
Seagulls are protected because they are an endangered species. This protection is enshrined in the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. The act made it illegal to transport, sell, trade, capture, kill, or harm seagulls, including their eggs and nests in Canada, the United States, Russia, Japan, and Mexico. Initially, the act was passed between Canada and the United States and later extended to incorporate Russia, Japan, and Mexico. The stipulations of the treaty state that seagulls are migratory and native hence must be protected.
The problem with seagulls being protected is that they have grown into large numbers and become an annoyance in some crowded areas. Seagulls feed on leftover food scraps, carrion, and aquatic life wherever they can find it.
When they cannot find sufficient food supply at the coastal area or sea, they often look for food in nearby cities or towns. As the treaty made it illegal to kill seagulls, getting rid of their ranks needs special legal authorization.
To protect the safety and health of the people, some government organizations are applying lethal and non-lethal means to reduce their population when required.
What is the Penalty for Breaching the Migratory Bird Treaty Act?
Violating the act is a federal misdemeanor that can see you spend up to $1,500 in fines or imprisonment not exceeding six months. It is also illegal to take the birds to sell, which attracts an extra maximum fine of $2,000 and a prison sentence not exceeding one year.
Seagulls are a Threat to Humans
Unfortunately, many seagull subspecies have become accustomed to living amongst humans, especially Herring and Black-backed Gulls. Besides being a nuisance, they also pose a health risk to humans as they can spread diseases.
Seagulls often scavenge for food from heavily polluted areas such as bins, garbage dumps, and landfills. This means that they can spread toxic bacteria like protozoa, campylobacter, and salmonella in cities, towns, and beaches.
Furthermore, the ectoparasites, fungal agents, and bacteria found in gull droppings may cause meningitis, encephalitis, toxoplasmosis, histoplasmosis, and many other unpleasant diseases.
When they are nesting, seagulls can become extremely territorial where they aggressively protect their nests and can attack people who come near them. They have also been identified as a safety concern in airports as their flocks are dangerous to low flying aircraft.
Seagulls are not only dangerous to humans, but they can also extensively damage your property. Their droppings have corrosive uric acid, and its prolonged build-up can cause structural damage and corrode paint in buildings.
Can I Feed Seagulls in Canada?
It is against the law to feed seagulls, even at your home. You will be issued a warning letter threatening dire consequences if you continue feeding the birds. If you continue, you will be served with a legal notice requiring you to stop providing food to seagulls.
Why you should not Feed Seagulls
Seagulls that consume a highly artificial diet can suffer long-term health complications. Crowding together and low nutrition promote the spread of disease among humans, seagulls, and other native birds. It is best to leave seagulls alone to look for food naturally.
Can I Leave Seagulls to Feed-in My Garden?
Providing seagulls with food will result in over-population. The birds will become a nuisance when they learn that they have a ready food source in your garden. Due to this, they will come in droves meaning more mess and more poo. Bird poo can spread disease and attract vermin. It would be better for everyone if we did not feed these seabirds.
What Should I do if a Seagull Attacks Me?
Before you decide to attack back, you should understand that seagulls enjoy have legal protection. Harming or killing a seagull will hefty fines and possible criminal charges.
What Causes Aggression in Seagulls?
Though they are harmless most of the time, seagulls can sometimes be aggressive. This is usually witnessed when they are protecting their young or become too familiar with obtaining food from humans.
How do you handle a Dive Bombing Seagull?
If you cannot hide your food, keep it close to you and use your other arm to scare away the birds. Remember that you have the advantage of size as you are bigger than a seagull, so move towards them to scare them away. It is also advisable to leave the area as they will not chase after you.
Are Dogs Safe with Seagulls?
Bird experts opine that seagulls rarely attack dogs or other animals. However, a seagull can lift a small dog. Seagulls are opportunists, and they cannot differentiate between a small bird and a small dog.
How Can you Protect Yourself against Seagulls?
If a seagull charges towards you, your best defense is to lift your arms to shield your head and walk away. Do not wave your arms as it will only cause more agitation in the bird. Umbrellas and hats work well as shields if you expect seagulls in your garden.
What are Conservation Measures taken for Seagulls?
Various conservation measures are taken to protect seagulls, including defending their breeding grounds and preventing urban development near seagull nesting grounds. As seagulls breed and nest in coastal regions, their fragility has increased over the years.
Seagull populations have also increased because of commercial fishing activities. Discards from fishing excursions are a great source of food for seagulls. Despite this, they haven’t been purposely used to conserve seagull populations.
Likewise, seagulls do well when biodegradable waste is included in landfills. However, the negative effects of having biodegradable resources in landfills have been greater than any conservation benefits.
Generally, seagulls are seen as creatures that disrupt the peace instead of a species requiring our protection. Consequently, there is little effort in advancing conservation measures to protect seagulls.