Seaside town plagued by gulls fights back against its feathered marauders

first_imgSeagulls in Scarborough, where there were 22 attacks by their kind on passers-by With its pier, steam railway and traditional fish and chips Scarborough has long been a favourite seaside location for holidaymakers who prefer British coastal resorts to the Costas.But along with the bracing North Sea air and the perennial threat of showers, they are now having to fend off repeated attacks from seagulls.Scarborough council has logged at least 22 seagull attacks on passers-by along the North Yorkshire coast this summer.Several of the seagulls’ victims report that the birds grabbed food off them after swooping form the skies.Others told how they had been deliberately pecked by the birds for no apparent reason. Similar attacks have been reported in seaside towns around Britain, including St Ives in Cornwall, Brighton and Maryport, Cumbria.Scarborough council warns that during the summer, herring gulls are likely to “aggressively seek out food by any means possible” as they feed and protecting their young.Councillors are to discuss the problem after receiving a report on the summer’s seagull attacks next week.The report states: “This is an on-going project that will require further measures to be implemented over a number of years to effectively minimise, in the long term, the public nuisance caused by the local gull populations.“It is important to stress that this is not the sole responsibility of the council. It is the collective responsibility of all building owners and occupiers (proofing against gull nesting) and residents, visitors, local businesses (not to feed the gulls and not leaving litter/waste which encourages scavenging).”A council spokesman added: “Unfortunately, by feeding the birds, leaving rubbish bags out for collection unsecured and dropping litter in the street, humans have made it easy for them and this is one of the main reasons we are experiencing the problems, particularly in the spring and summer seasons.”Britain’s leading urban sea gull expert, Peter Rock, who has studied herring gulls since 1980, says the “misunderstood” birds are simply trying to protect their chicks.  He said: “They do not seek to attack humans or animals because they are thugs, they only attack to protect their young and to snatch food.” Visitors and residents in the town have been urged not to feed the gulls in order to avoid attracting more to the area, not to put out rubbish bags too early – as these can be torn open by the seagulls – and to make sure their bin lids are closed to deter the birds.Now the council is planning to introduce further measures to stem the problem, including placing netting over the ledges and windows of town centre buildings to prevent kittiwakes from nesting.This would force them to return to native nesting areas on cliffs such as nearby Castle Headland. Seagulls in Scarborough, where there were 22 attacks by the birds on passers-byCredit:Guzeliancenter_img Among the most serious incidents was one in which a seagull snatched a sausage roll from two-year-old Harley Siddle-Haigh as he sat in his pushchair in the town centre in May.His mother Penny Siddle said: “It was really aggressive, really aggressive. Normally when you shoo at it leaves but this one was coming back for more. It went straight in his face.“Luckily he was all right but he was shook up and he was scared. Being strapped in your pram and being attacked with a huge seagull grabbing it from his mouth.”Ms Siddle and other victims of the gull attacks have called for the birds to be culled.   “I think they should start culling them again. If a dog bites or attacks a human they’re put down. It’s the same,” she said.Herring gulls and kittiwakes are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, although homeowners can remove herring gull nests and eggs from their property.Natural England grants licences allowing any authorised person to remove eggs or a nest from their land to “preserve public health and safety”.Of the 22 attacks logged between March and August, 19 took place in Scarborough, two in Whitby and one in Filey. Unfortunately, by feeding the birds, leaving rubbish bags out for collection unsecured and dropping litter in the street, humans have made it easy for themScarborough Borough Council Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings.last_img read more