St. John's

Seagull nests were destroyed on the roof of Brunswick Square. (Barb Hennessy)

A number of seagull nests were destroyed on a roof at Brunswick Square Shopping Centre in Saint John on Wednesday.

The owner, Fortis Properties, has a permit from Environment Canada to remove the nests as a way to control the seagull population, says complex manager Paulette Hicks.

Although seagulls are protected federally, the Migratory Birds Convention recognizes that birds may sometimes cause damage and danger.

The Canadian Wildlife Service can issue permits allowing landowners or managers to scare birds away from a problem area, and/or to destroy their eggs. Migratory birds, their eggs or nests may not be harmed without a permit.

New Brunswick birder Alain Clavette says while the incident will not significantly reduce the seagull population in the province, it should be used to raise awareness about types of sea gulls that are found here.

"Gulls are not just gulls," said Clavette.

"There are several species of gulls. And among these gulls that were nesting there, there could have been up to two to three species. Certainly ring-bill gulls must have been there and I would think herring gulls, maybe a couple of pairs of great black-back."             

Seagulls are sometimes seen as varmints, but they have not always been as numerous as they are today, Clavette says.

He says 100 years ago there were fears that herring gulls would disappear completely.