RSPCA: Baby gull plucked from nest and thrown from roof

The RSPCA is urging greater tolerance of gulls this summer holidays after a baby gull was thrown from the top of a two-storey department store and killed.

A teenage boy was seen picking the herring gull chick up out of his nest on the roof of Beales on Police Station Road, Lowestoft, Suffolk on Thursday, July 4 and deliberately throwing him to the ground many metres below. Witnesses say teenage girls and boys were seen cheering him on nearby, and the bird was alive at the moment of impact but died 30 seconds later.

Every year the charity receives calls of this kind about gulls which have been the victim of cruel and abusive attacks. Many have stones thrown at them, others left homeless after their nests are destroyed and large numbers are shot with airguns – such as one poor bird brought to Mallydams Wood in Hastings, East Sussex in May with 10 pellets in its spine, wings and organs (X-Ray pictured below).

With the holidays approaching it is feared these problems are going to increase.

RSPCA inspector Ben Kirby said: “It was very clear from eye-witness accounts that this young boy was deliberately and quite vindictively attacking this poor baby bird. If anyone has any more information about this young man we would urge them to come forward.

“Sadly this kind of incident is not as unusual as you would hope and every year we deal with many cases of such callous attacks on these birds.

“With the school holidays about to begin it is likely this problem will only get worse. More young people will be out and about in the sunshine and likely to come into contact and conflict with gulls.

“Also it is at this time of year when the gull chicks are young that their parents can ‘swoop’ on anyone who they see as a threat which leads to much misunderstanding.”

Gulls are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and it is illegal to intentionally do anything which causes suffering to wild birds and action can only be taken against them under licence. Herring gulls in particular are a species of conservation concern in the UK and research has shown that overall gull populations are actually in decline.

Adam Grogan, senior scientist for the RSPCA, said: “All it takes is a little care and understanding to minimise any inconvenience caused by gulls – they are normally just behaving in a natural way.

“For instance, you can’t blame them for not knowing the difference between scraps willingly offered and your own bag of chips. They are simply wild animals following their instincts to find food.

“They don’t necessarily know that their nest is blocking your gas flue and like any protective mum, their swooping is often just a way of keeping their babies safe.

“The RSPCA believes that deterrents and non-lethal methods of control are far better at helping to reduce problems. Not feeding the gulls and disposing of rubbish properly is one thing we can all do to prevent gulls from causing a nuisance.”

If you have any information about the incident involving the gull please call 0300 123 8018 quoting reference 728 4/07/13. The young boy is described as being around 13 or 14 years old, five foot tall, and of big build. He was wearing a blue hooded top and grey jogging bottoms.

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


Notes to editors

The RSPCA gives the following advice on living in harmony with gulls:

In some seaside towns where people have fed gulls, they have learned to snatch food.  Try to keep food to yourself but don’t blame them if they can’t tell the difference between scraps willingly offered and your bag of chips!

Dispose of edible litter carefully – put it in gull-proof litter bins.  Plastic bags left in the street are an open invitation for gulls to investigate.

Gulls that swoop suddenly on people or pets are usually trying to protect chicks that have got out of the nest. If you see a gull chick leave it alone – its parents can look after it better than you.

Gulls make 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.  Your local environmental health department or pest control company should be able to tell you about the devices available.

Remember, if you see a gull chick – usually mottled brown and grey in colour – leave it alone unless it is obviously injured.

RSPCA, Wilberforce Way, Southwater, Horsham, West Sussex RH13 9RS

Press office direct lines: 0300 123 0244/0288  Fax: 0303 123 0099
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