A planned seagull cull in Worcester has been called off after council chiefs were told it would be illegal - and lasers are being considered as an alternative.
Worcester City Council had looked set to become the first city in England to carry out a cull of the nuisance birds for more than 40 years.
But after the authority took legal advice, they realised it would not be possible to apply for a licence to do so, as they are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act.
Instead, the council are investing £30,000 of taxpayers' cash exploring other options - including using lasers to deter the birds.
Council chiefs say the birds have plagued residents and businesses for years creating problems around noise, attacks and mess.
They had considering applying to Natural England for a licence to kill the birds following “growing anger and frustration” from locals.
But after being warned the cull would be illegal environment committee chairwoman agreed it was a "non-starter" and other avenues would be explored.
The report by Lloyd Griffiths, the council’s corporate director for homes and communities, suggested the use of lasers to scare off the birds.
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It says: “Government advice acknowledges that visual and auditory deterrents are ineffective for gull control. The birds quickly learn to ignore them.
“The effectiveness of laser controls are less understood.
"It is known that one local business has invested in this measure and steps will be taken to assess the impact this has had.”
The official decision at the committee was: "Having considered the legal advice, the committee instructs officers not to pursue a case for general cull, the committee instructs officers to gather the evidence on the impact on public health & safety including mental health."
Worcester is home to "a significant population" of gulls, the report said, which create particular problems to local residents.
Previous solutions have included replacing eggs, erecting bunting to prevent swooping gulls, painting roofs red to deter nesting and removing open-topped bins from the city centre.
Councillor Joy Squires said after the meeting that the authority could act to kill individual nuisance gulls, but only after all non lethal options “have been exhausted”.
An RSPCA spokesperson told Yahoo News UK: “We don't have enough details of the proposals to be able to comment on the potential effectiveness or welfare impacts this could have for gulls or other non-target species but wherever there are calls for control over numbers of wild animals, we would always prefer humane deterrence methods over culling.”