Can't live with them, Can't shoot them

MPs have called for a relaxation in the law to be able to cull seagulls when towns and villages get overrun or they become too much of a menace.

Oliver Colvile MP (Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport, Conservative) called the debate to highlight the problems some places face with gulls. He made clear that culls would only be used in special circumstances and could be species specific.

MPs from across coastal communities shared horror stories of attacks by gulls – pensioners with bleeding scalps, postmen abused etc with some communities taking the law into their own hands – the MP from Berwick described gangs of armed Gull vigilantes roaming the streets last summer.

MPs were also reminded the gulls are a protected species and this sort of behaviour is not actually allowed, not without a license anyhow. However it is this strict protection that was under debate this afternoon.

Our own Derek Thomas tweeted before attending the debate

“Debating in Parliament: how do you solve a problem like a sea gull? Sea gulls cause havoc in St Ives, Porthleven, Mousehole”

Colvile, becoming famous as a national hedgehog campaigner asked why is a Herring gull protected but not the poor hedgehog?

He made clear that he was not in favour of a  widespead cull but said that the present 1981 Act act allowed for limited control of Gulls in cases of public safety or to prevent disease.

“I cannot see how a seagull attacking a pensioner, leaving her with a huge and bloody cut on her scalp cannot be seen as a matter of public health and safety” Colvile asked and called for an amendment to the 1981 Act to allow for limited culls in extreme cases. He also said that the protected status could be adjusted species by species and region by region and needn’t be a nationwide blanket ban..

“Many people’s lives are being blighted on a daily basis by seagulls” he finished

The number of urban seagull colonies have doubled in number from 2000 – 2015 and the actual number gulls now living in towns could have quadrupled some estimates say..

Preventative measures were discussed at length: buildings, especially new builds should be designed to prevent perching and nesting; Takeaways shops need to take responsibility for their own mess but people have to play their part too said MPs and stop feeding them, on purpose or otherwise.

They discussed all manner of number control measures like painting eggs, dummy eggs, hawks, plastic hawks and other methods.

Steve Double described how we might laugh when we see a tourist having his pasty nicked by a seagull but it can actually cause serious injury. He said the local A&E record a spike in Seagull related injuries in the nesting season and reminded the hall of the dog in Newquay that got killed by gulls in 2015, that led David Cameron to say, “We have got to have a conversation about gulls”

“Increasingly in Cornwall they are seen as nothing more than flying rats” the MP for Snozzle & NQY said “However alot of the problems are caused by human behaviour” He called on people to stop feeding them and leaving their rubbish everywhere but he concluded that we have reached a point where more direct action must be considered.

The Government minister answered that the law doesn’t need to be changed but people and local authorities should spread best practice to tackle the problem. Licenses are available if a cull is called for.

What do you think? Should we be allowed to cull Gulls if they are a problem? 

Or do you have a humane way to prevent nesting? (we heard a rubber snake works…)

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