Give gulls a break this summer
The RSPCA is urging greater tolerance of gulls this summer as more and more of the marine birds are being admitted to its wildlife centres across the country as victims of cruelty.
Every year the charity receives calls about gulls which have been persecuted and the victim of abusive attacks.
Many have stones thrown at them, others left homeless after their nests are destroyed and large numbers are the target of people using them as pot shots with airguns – such as one poor bird (pictured) brought to Stapeley Grange in Nantwich, Cheshire.
Manager of RSPCA Stapeley Grange wildlife centre Lee Stewart said: “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.
“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 and their nests are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and it is illegal to intentionally kill, take or injure 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.
Lee added: “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 gutter 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.
“Blocking off areas where gulls normally nest outside of the breeding season will also help to reduce the problems.”
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.
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