Zero nests this year.
That was the goal for Countdown Oamaru after several years of problem-level numbers of red-billed gulls nesting atop the supermarket, and it has been achieved.
A Countdown spokeswoman said deterrents, including spikes, a laser “cannon”, kites, and removing nesting material, were “clearly working”.
“The birds have decided not to nest on our roof this year, which is welcome news for our customers and our team,” the spokeswoman said.
However, the gulls have not gone far, migrating en masse just a few hundred metres south.
Streeter Concepts owner Lance Streeter said he felt for businesses in the Lower Thames St area, where the birds were now causing havoc.
The gulls have not nested on the roof of Mr Streeter’s signwriting business, across the road from Countdown Oamaru, this year either. He has been using a motion-detector sprinkler system to deter them.
“We were constantly at them, and they moved,” he said.
“Standing outside my place now, and there’s not a drop of bird s*** on my footpath, which is phenomenal, it’s unheard of.”
Mr Streeter and Countdown Oamaru would continue to work with the Waitaki District Council and the Department of Conservation (Doc) to prevent the red-billed gulls returning.
Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher said the gulls’ mass move to the Lower Thames St area had been noticed, and the council was working with Doc on solutions to the problem.
“We’re as keen as anybody to get a solution to this and to get the gulls into a more natural habitat for themselves and to stop some of the extreme damage and cost that they are causing in town,” Mr Kircher said.
The reason for the gulls’ move south was not clear, but he praised the building owners who had been proactive in checking for nest materials building up, and installing preventive measures.
There had been some confusion over whether it was the building or business owner’s responsibility to install preventive measures and remove nesting materials, Waitaki District Council regulatory manager Andrew Bardsley said.
“Ultimately it is the building owner’s responsibility,” he said.
“They often rely on tenants to inform them of any issues, such as the gulls becoming a problem. In some cases we have found that tenants have not notified the building owner before the gulls were able to establish themselves on buildings.”
Some building owners had not taken any steps to install preventive measures, believing the gulls were only a problem in the Coquet St area.
The council was compiling information about Oamaru’s gull problems for new Conservation Minister Kiri Allan, with whom Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean has also requested a meeting.
“We’ll keep working on things and appreciate Jacqui Dean following up on it,” Mr Kircher said.
“We’re hoping to get more information to the minister as soon as possible.”
Oamaru’s central business district has been plagued by red-billed gulls creating an unwanted disturbance for several years. There are different theories as to why they started nesting in town, but most people believe it is connected to the closure of the landfill in 2017.
While they seem to be abundant in the North Otago town, the species is in decline nationally – the population has halved since 1994 – and due to their “at-risk: declining” status, once nests are formed, building owners are prohibited under the Wildlife Act from removing them.
Doc Coastal Otago acting operations manager Craig Wilson said the best approach was to make rooftops less attractive as nesting sites.
“Effective ways to do this include regular roof inspections to keep rooftops clear of debris that could be used as nesting materials or installing physical barriers like plastic mesh suspended slightly above the rooftop,” Mr Wilson said.Best Authentic SneakersAsics Onitsuka Tiger