People in Dublin are being urged by BirdWatch Ireland to not feed seagulls in parks or other public areas.
Recent years have seen many complaints about seagulls' behaviour in the capital - whether that's gulls swooping in to grab food from people's hands, or nesting birds keeping some residents awake at night.
On Lunchtime Live, Niall Hatch of BirdWatch Ireland said a lot of the seagulls' natural ecosystem has been removed or damaged - driving them into towns and cities in search of food.
He said: “Many of these birds have learned that ‘humans = food’. They’ve been fed food by people in places like Stephen’s Green.
“They’ve also learned they can go through overflowing bins or even rip open the refuse sacks left outside commercial premises. There’s food in there, and they take the easy option.”
Niall said the problem would remain even if seagulls weren't around, with animals like foxes also trying to get access to food waste at night.
However, he said there's "no surprise" that seagull issues are worst in areas where refuse management "leaves a lot to be desired".
He said it's a bad thing when seagulls learn they can get an 'easy meal' from humans, observing: “It is a man-made problem.
"If we have refuse lying around and food overflowing from bins… that’s a problem.
“I also think people should be really discouraged from deliberately feeding them.
“In some ways, it’s human nature - people want to help wildlife. But the message we want to get across is that those individual gulls are learning to associate humans with food - and that isn't a good thing.”
Niall noted that other birds feeding from birdfeeders in gardens don’t make the same connection between food and humans.
However, he pointed out those smaller birds also don’t pose any risk to humans, unlike the bigger and more aggressive seagulls.
Seagull cull 'not on the table'
A seagull 'cull' is one measure often called for in areas where the birds are causing particular problems.
Niall said that's something that isn't going to happen.
He said: “Often we humans, as a knee jerk reaction, when an animal is causing us problems we say ‘kill it’. But, in fact, we should try to address the root cause of it.
“It’s also very important to point out the gulls are protected under Irish and EU law - a cull would not be compatible with EU law. That’s not on the table.”
Niall said there's no doubt seagulls are causing problems in some areas of the capital, citing Balbriggan as one place that has had particular issues.
He believes protecting offshore islands where gulls traditionally nest would be a big part of the solution, along with dealing with any waste issues in the city.