What happens if you give oestrogen to male birds? What if foxes eat the birds when they die? What happens if rats eat the grain?
Aoibhinn Tormey, a Fine Gael member of Fingal County Council, believes this is a huge issue that goes “beyond signage and bins”.
Representing Howth and Malahide, she wants to introduce a method, used elsewhere in Europe, to minimise the number of seagull attacks along Dublin’s coastline.
Ms Tormey previously wrote to the Department of Housing explaining how R-12 pigeon pills dispensed from corn seed feeders in Belgium have successfully reduced the pigeon population there.
She told theIrish Independent: “The birds are aggressive, particularly during nesting season when they’re all spread around the coastal areas. In Howth, they’ll attack people for food.
“The problem is that people will feed them but then they’ll come back and grab the food.
“There have been instances where people get hurt and bleed. It’s a situation that needs to be dealt with. If what they’re doing in Belgium works, we should try it here. In Balbriggan, they remove some of the eggs: that hasn’t been done in Howth.
“There can be different things that can be done, particularly when it’s a public safety issue. It’s going to keep happening every single year.”
Fingal County Council looked at the provision of public bins and a number of compressor bins were installed. Signs were also put up telling the public to stop feeding the seagulls.
Ms Tormey said: “We’re working with local businesses to ensure that their bins are secure so the seagulls can’t get it.
“I think the department has to look at this and start exploring next-level interventions, particularly in Howth where it hasn’t been done before. Whether it’s removing eggs or if the contraceptive thing works, but I think we need to be looking beyond signage and bins because the problem is much worse than that.”
Meanwhile, Gillian Bird from the DSPCA said there are “ethical problems” that come with the proposal of giving contraceptive pills to birds.
She said: “This is not going to happen for simple reasons. Number one, there are ethical problems: how do we know it’s just going to be wild seagulls eating the corn? What if native Irish birds or endangered birds eat them? What will be the knock-on effects? Is it aimed at sterilising the males or as birth control for the females?
“What happens if you give oestrogen to male birds? What if foxes eat the birds when they die? What happens if rats eat the grain? Will it be like an episode of The Simpsons where we end up with three-eyed animals?
“It’s very unethical to do, there would be risks to animals because we don’t know the knock-on effect.”
She said population control is based on the food sources available to the seagulls.
“It’s the same with foxes: it’s about rubbish and litter at the end of the day. Animals will reproduce based on the amount of food we give them.
“The wheelie bins did a huge thing for the urban fox population. We should look at our waste system, how our bins work, and how industrial and food waste works instead.”
Last year, Finglas-Ballymun Councillor Keith Connolly asked Dublin City Council to look at the possibility of culling seagulls. He told Newstalk: “This issues around litter, picking at bags, noise pollution, we’ve had seagulls attacking people for food in outdoor areas. We need to start looking at what can be done to either cull or to stop these ruining our city at the moment.”