'DON'T feed the locals' is the message this summer as a campaign aims to discourage the intentional and accidental feeding of seagulls.

The Litter Free Dorset team are working with town councils and takeaway businesses to spread the message in a 'positive and humourous way' to to reduce litter and 'anti-social behaviour' by gulls.

It is stressed this is not an 'anti-seagull campaign'. Feeding the birds human food is bad for their health so by not doing this encourages them to hunt natural food sources for themselves.

Locals and visitors are therefore urged to:

  • Never leave food unattended
  • Bin any unwanted food
  • And if the bins are full, to please take all rubbish home

Sophie Colley, Litter Free Dorset’s coordinator said: “It’s really important we do not feed seagulls as encouraging this bad behaviour can lead to them relying on scraps from humans. This can result in greedy gulls pulling rubbish out of bins, scattering litter everywhere, to find scraps or stealing straight from our hands or laps. No one wants their alfresco dinner ruined by some aggressive gulls”.

Litter Free Dorset is working with town councils to display banners along seafronts and in car parks while calling on takeaway businesses to display campaign artwork (window stickers and posters) to spread the ‘Don’t Feed the Locals’ message with customers.

Already 60 businesses across Dorset are displaying ‘Don’t Feed the Locals’ stickers/posters and encouraging their customers to bin their rubbish or take it home with them.

Sophie Colley added: “If the bins are full please hold onto your rubbish to dispose of at home. Seagulls are clever and will pull rubbish out of overflowing bins and tear apart bags of rubbish placed next to or on top of bins, scattering litter everywhere while on the hunt for tasty treats. Once littered, this rubbish can be easily blown or washed into our watercourses and out to sea.”

Ria Loveridge, Mitigation Coordinator at the Bird and Recreation Initiative (BARI), said: “This campaign isn’t just about litter on our streets, it’s also an important message about the health of our most iconic seaside birds. Just like humans, gulls get addicted to junk food, either from us directly feeding it to them or from them litter picking bins when food isn’t disposed of well enough. This junk food diet is proving devastating for their gut health. Gulls are the sound of the British seaside and need our protection."

For more information visit www.litterfreedorset.co.uk