Seagulls, also lovingly known as ‘rats with wings’ are increasingly becoming an issue. Trashing streets and attacking members of the public, they’re a real menace yet they’re protected from any retaliation.
Reported by The Sun, a woman from Swansea was asked to pay a £100 fine for dropping a chip to feed a pigeon. An offence under section 87 of the Environmental Protection Act. If you live near the seafront, the strikingimage of a gull mouth wide open, with the line ‘They are not hungry, they are just greedy’ is a common one. The posters are provided by the local council in an attempt to avoid the gulls becoming ‘violent and frightening’.
The majority of complaints received by Hastings Council as said by Kevin Boorman, are “about seagulls mostly ripping up waste bin bags” however, they recognise that sometimes the issues the birds cause can be a lot more serious. “[The] birds can dive and swoop on people and pets” or they can “[block] gas flues, valley and parapet gutters” which can lead to flooding. Pensioner Sue Atkinson from Helston, Cornwall, was left with blood pouring from her head after being attacked by a seagull while she was out walking her dog. This is just one of many reported seagull attacks that happened last year. However, they are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
This means it is illegal to kill or harm them and you could face up to a £5000 fine or even six months in prison. Colin Tate, 73, Brighton was fined £2,757.20 last year after beating a seagull to death with a broom handle. RSPCA inspector Liz Wheeler condemned the attack, “We urge people to be tolerant towards allwildlife around them. When asked to comment, the RSPB said that “Gulls, like most wild birds, will naturally avoid contact with humans, unless they are protecting their young, or competing for food.” Their main advice is “not to feed these birds.” Unfortunately, there seems to be no definitive answer as to how to truly deal with the problems seagulls create and until then it will continue to be a topic which sparksmuch debate. For now, try to be patient with our feathered ‘friends’.
By Matthew Cooper