Seagulls are very intelligent animals and they have learned that we throw away a huge amount of food every day and that that food is accessible to them to eat. Most of the times this “messiness” has its origin in human behaviour and could be avoided if humans were more careful when disposing of their waste.
A big part of food that is made accessible to seagulls come from people throwing their rubbish onto the floor. This will be a welcome meal for the seagulls but they will not dispose of whatever is not food and this rubbish will just lay around or find its way to the oceans.
Another big part of this food comes from full bins and rubbish bags left on the street, which allow seagulls to dig in and pull out the food (and whatever else comes with it).
What can I do?
The solution to this problem is easy: block seagull access to rubbish.
If you see people littering, please ask them to pick up their rubbish, or ultimately pick it up yourself. If this sounds disgusting, remember that you probably touch much dirtier objects regularly (like money) and that you can always wash your hand afterwards.
Nowadays there are various street bins which are already “seagull-proof” in some degree. Easy measures like bins that require an action to be opened (such as a foot pedal) or bins that have strong curtains are highly effective if the bins are emptied regularly. If this doesn’t happen where you live, you can consider starting a petition and ask your council to replace the existing bins. Most of the times regular emptying of bins is enough to prevent seagulls from reaching the waste.
If your waste collection requires you to leave bags on the pavement (or if you have bins but the weather is very windy), put your waste out as late as possible before the collection times.
Always keep in mind that we too need to do our part when dealing with avoiding seagulls making a mess, and being conscious about what we do with our litter is the best way in which we can contribute.