Birdwatch News Archive
Despite its seeming ever-presence in our towns and cities, at our rubbish dumps and on our coasts, Herring Gull is actually a declining species. Photo: Falk Haehle (commons.wikimedia.org)
Sussex gulls shot
Posted on: 10 Aug 2012
The RSPCA have appealed for greater tolerance of gulls, after 16 were found dead in Seaford, East Sussex, last week, all having been shot.
The bodies of the 16 birds were found on grass verges and other spots around Seaford. Last year the charity received 237 cruelty complaints about gulls which, as well as shooting, included destruction of nests, people throwing stones at them and actively trying to run them over in their cars. Already this year there have been 135 similar complaints.
Inspectors are issuing a reminder that it is illegal to wilfully harm any bird, and meanwhile a wildlife centre is asking people to make a toy gull as part of its campaign to foster better relations between people and these birds.
RSPCA inspector Laura Bryant is leading the appeal and said: “For there to be so many deaths in so short a time makes us think these poor birds may be the victims of deliberate attacks. Shooting birds can cause a great deal of pain. Every year there are problems involving people attacking gulls and people need to remember that this is against the law. Gulls are as synonymous with the seaside as ice cream, but are all too often seen as a pest by people rather than part of the wildlife around them.”
The RSPCA’s Mallydams Wood wildlife centre in Hastings has launched a competition for people to sew, knit or crochet any species of gull for its open day on Saturday 18 August, as part of its ongoing campaign to educate people about gulls. The centre, which rescues and rehabilitates large numbers of gulls every year, wants to increase the toy numbers in the 'gull cuddling corner' of its educational centre. This corner is intended to encourage tolerance for the birds, by encouraging the youngsters who visit to literally ‘cuddle a gull’.
Bel Deering, centre manager, said: “Lots of people – even animal lovers – have surprisingly fierce feelings against the humble gull. They see them as a nuisance rather than just opportunistic creatures simply following a food source. We have hundreds of gulls in our centre in need of care every year. Sometimes the gulls are injured by natural causes, but others are definitely the victims of purposeful attacks, some of them shockingly savage. We hope by raising awareness of the issue we can make people think twice before making this bird a victim.”
Gulls are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and it is illegal to do anything which causes suffering to wild birds – Your local environmental health department or pest control company should be able to tell you about the devices available.Gulls make the most noise between May and July when they are breeding. If gulls on your roof disturb you, or you are worried they may block a gas flue, you can prevent them nesting there in the first place.
Not feeding the gulls and disposing of rubbish properly are two other things we can all do to prevent gulls from causing a nuisance. Herring Gulls in particular are a species of conservation concern and research has shown that overall gull populations are actually in decline.
If you find an injured gull, or have any information of a gull being treated cruelly, please call the RSPCA’s cruelty line on 0300 1234 999.
Mallydams Wood annual open day is on Saturday, August 18. Call the centre on 0300 123 0750 for more information.
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