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Seagulls are terrorising the UK – and nobody dares stop them

Dear readers, to those who have quite rightly concluded in this silliest of silly seasons that the country is going to the dogs, apologies. It is time for a new metaphor of decline; Britain is for the birds. And I’m not even referring to Swiftmania; if only our ills really could be cured with friendship bracelets and a loud chorus of Shake It Off. Somehow, amid all the other crises that beset us, seagull-psychos have us in their claws.

I am aware that purists will fussily point out there is technically no such thing as “a seagull” for reasons of taxonomy. But these days there’s no such thing as “a seagull” for reasons of topography. Why? Because, in 2024, office blocks are their new cliffs and high street pavements the new feeding grounds for these XL Gullies. Why else would even land-locked Worcester be living in fear of avian bombardment?

It’s been a gradual incursion in plain sight, but no less menacing for that. First, they swooped on our fish and chips. Then it was kiddies’ ice creams and anything in a bin bag. Finally, the ultimate humiliation – no, not poor Gizmo the chihuahua who was apparently carried off from a Devon garden in 2019 and never seen again. These days it is the nation’s posties who are finding themselves under threat.

Postal workers in the Cornish town of Liskeard have been left “running for their lives” due to territorial gulls dive-bombing them on their rounds. So much so that Royal Mail has sent written apologies to the good burghers of Liskeard, which may or may not have arrived (see above). How else to respond to this unprecedented “and finally” story other than with a wry smile and a sweet “sorry”?

Except it’s not unprecedented. Five years ago, the Royal Mail warned the citizens of Cardiff that their post could be disrupted because of seagulls. No joke, given a one kilogram herring gull has a razor-sharp two-inch beak, a 1.4-metre wingspan and travels at more than 30 miles per hour. But did mail bosses bother to devise a strategy to protect their staff and the mail? I’d like to know.

Gulls are becoming a bona fide hazard to humans. In 2022, one Edinburgh resident who complained to the council of pram-pushing mothers being dive-bombed, pets attacked and windscreens being smashed was told to “hire a hawk”. This, despite the fact public money has been spent deterring pigeons from the city’s parliament building, presumably lest the totalitarian SNP step out, look up and get a taste of its own governing style – from a huge height.

Admittedly pigeons make a mess, but a spot of urban guano pales in comparison with a reign of terror. Just last month, Brighton earnt the unwelcome epithet of the “seagull attack hotspot” of the UK, with almost one in three attacks resulting in people being cut on the head. Blackpool came second, followed by Scarborough.

Like all wild birds, gulls are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. It’s just a shame they are too busy snarfing our battered cod to read the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. While there was a general licence to cull gulls and some other birds, Natural England clamped down on this in 2019 after a group backed by TV presenter Chris Packham urged a review.

It’s a wonder Tory politicians – whose goose is already well and truly cooked – haven’t included improved bird strike defences in their spending pledges. It might even have a real impact in Liskeard and elsewhere come the election – as long as they aren’t postal votes, obviously.


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