The two large seagulls which regularly perched atop the bike rack and bins outside University of St Andrews Main Library, have been absent from their usual post for roughly three weeks.
After overhearing comments made by library staff members about the relocation of said seagulls, The Saint launched an investigation in to the nature of their disappearance.
In response to an inquiry by The Saint, a spokesperson from the University of St Andrews Estates department responded:
“Unfortunately we had received a number of complaints and concerns from staff/students and visitors to the University with regard to the aggressive behaviour of the two seagulls – we also had incidents where people had been physically attacked and hurt (blood drawn) by these two seagulls. It was therefore important for us to take action and resolve the issue as there was concern that someone could be seriously hurt as a result of the birds’ behaviour.
“Colleagues in Estates engaged fully with Fife Council Environmental Services and Scottish Pest Control to identify options for suitable resolution. Localised bird proofing and falconry was attempted/considered but due to the location and aggressive nature of the birds this was unsatisfactory/deemed unsuitable. Therefore, guidance was sought from the Scottish Natural Heritage (licence provider) who provided authority to proceed with the removal due to the above considerations and the health and safety nature of the incidents.”
The spokesperson continued, “The licenced pest control company with the support of colleagues from Estates attended site and works were carried out in accordance with approved method statement. Since this action was undertaken we have not received any further injuries.
“This was an exceptional circumstance and the first time that the University has had to undertake this activity.”
All species of seagulls are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981.
However, according to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), “Government licences allow the killing of urban gulls only as a last resort, where a significant risk to public health or safety has been identified.”
The nature and conclusion of the library seagull “removal” is still unclear, however students may be reassured to know that they can revise in a safer environment from now on.
Tom Williams contributed to this article.