FLOCKS of seagulls could reach epidemic proportions this year as the struggle to control numbers nesting in the Gloucester city skyline continues.
A toxic mix of a ready food supply, no natural predators and Gloucester rooftops resembling cliff tops make the city perfect for seagulls to thrive.
Experts estimate there could be as many as 1,500 nesting birds in 2014, a five per cent increase since 2011.
Menacing gulls have been known to attack motorists and pedestrians, and splatter property with mess. Planning is well under way for this year's anti-gull programme ahead of spring nesting.
Muhammed Nawaz has been plagued by seagulls at his Bedmaker business in Eastgate Street.
He said: "I have been in Gloucester since 1982 and the problem is getting worse. Last summer there were some dead seagulls on our roof and when they became infested with maggots they started to fall into our building. It was disgusting.
"A lot of our stock was ruined and it caused us a lot of problems. It is particularly bad in Eastgate Street because of the food left out from the takeaways."
Up until 2013, the cost of Gloucester gull control has been funded by the city council with an annual budget of £9,460 to carry out an egg treatment programme.
That fund has since been topped up by £10,000 from Cory Environmental, the operators of Hempsted landfill site.
A fresh campaign ahead of the breeding season will see 'do not feed the birds' signs slapped up around Gloucester.
Gull breeding surveys carried out by the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency revealed city hotspots where nesting was rife.
The Gate streets, Clarence Street and Russell Street, Shire Hall, Gloucester prison, industrial areas in Cole Avenue and Bristol Road, Ashville Trading Estate, Toys R Us at the Peel Centre and Nicks Timber Yard in Bristol Road have all been identified.
They will now be targeted in the council's egg treatment programme.
AHVLA said there is still a lot of suitable nesting habitats within Gloucester and the gull population has potential to expand. It said without egg control and a reduction in feeding opportunities there would be an even larger problem.
Contractor, NBC Bird and Pest Solutions, will use a variety of techniques depending on the location of properties.
Techniques include egg oiling, egg replacement and destruction.
A bird gel repellent was also tried in Gloucestershire County Council's roof at Quayside, but proved ineffective.
City councillor Sajid Patel, cabinet member for the environment, said: "Urban gulls raise a number of complex issues. They are a national problem not a Gloucester phenomenon. We are working closely to ensure we approach this from a number of different perspectives.
"Our aim is to try and mitigate the worst aspects of the impact they have on residents and businesses in the city.
"Our programme will not deliver overnight success, and residents and traders can help us combat the problem by disposing of waste properly and by refraining from feeding pigeons and gulls."