Seagulls are causing so much chaos in UK coastal communities that fed-up residents are arming themselves with guns to kill the animals themselves, an MP has claimed.
The rise of seagull vigilantism emerged during a debate in Parliament where MPs lined up to spell out how the birds were causing misery for their constituents - not just tourists having their ice-cream stolen but pensioners being hospitalised and even a family dog being killed by what were dubbed “flying rats”.
The most surprising intervention came from Conservative MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan, who explained people had taken the matter into their own hands in her Berwick-upon-Tweed constituency. She said:
“We are plagued with the seagull problem, to the point that last summer someone took it upon themselves to institute their own cull, which, while appreciated in some quarters, brought the risk that people are having to take the law into their own hands to deal with these really difficult and aggressive birds.
“Which means there are people wandering the streets of Berwick with firearms who really shouldn’t be doing so.
“So the impact of that frustration is very, very real.”
Two years ago, the Government committed £250,000 in the Budget to tackle the scourge of coastal resorts, but the money was later cancelled by George Osborne.
Then Prime Minister David Cameron revealed at the time a seagull once stole the ham from his sandwich but that he had nothing “against the entire seagull population”.
The debate was led by Oliver Colvile, Tory MP for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport on the South West coast.
He detailed how birds are terrorising people.
“As we head into the summer, we could very well see gull wars on our high streets,” he said, urging ministers to do more to bring the numbers of seagulls under control.
“This is not a vendetta,” Colvile said. “It is an opportunity to ensure that shoppers, residents and tourists feel safe when they are outdoors.”
“We see photos in the press of a pensioner with a large cut to her scalp, we read stories about the diving seagull killing a pet dog, things have become so bad and so widely publicised that our former prime minister David Cameron said he wanted a big conversation about murderous seagulls.”
Labour MP John Woodcock, who represents Barrow and Furness in Cumbria, said his constituents have been “blighted and besieged” by the pest and called for a national seagull summit to tackle the problem.
He highlighted a “gruesome” video of “very large herring gull feasting on a pigeon” on his local newspaper’s website, and how the birds are “popping into Greggs to help themselves to produce”.