Abstract

We estimated the allowable annual take of great black-backed gulls Larus marinus, herring gulls L. argentatus, ring-billed gulls L. delawarensis, and laughing gulls Leucophaeus atricilla in the U.S. portion of the Atlantic Flyway to help meet human safety and resource management goals. Gulls can pose a serious threat to aviation, negatively impact other colonial-nesting migratory bird species, and conflict with other human activities. We estimated an annual take limit using a model that incorporated intrinsic population growth rate, minimum population size, and a recovery factor for each species. We estimated intrinsic population growth by combining allometric with life table approaches. We used the recovery factor to restrict the take level of the great black-backed gull beyond that of the other species because of poor data quality and concern about its population status. The herring gull was the only species with comprehensive demographic data. Population sizes used in estimating potential take limit varied greatly among the four species, but estimates of intrinsic population growth rate were similar (range 0.118 to 0.197). The annual potential take limits for the four gull species were 7,963 for herring gulls, 2,081 for great black-backed gulls, 15,039 for laughing gulls, and 14,826 for ring-billed gulls. Comparing average annual take from 2012–2019 to our modeled potential take limit, overharvest has not occurred for great black-backed and laughing gulls, occurred once every 8 y for ring-billed gulls, and occurred over half the time for herring gulls.

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