When I would hear people rant about Brighton’s seagulls, calling them ‘rats with wings’or ‘a menace’, I assumed they were overreacting. These were simply bird haters that had nothing better to do than complain about the local wildlife. How wrong I was.
Only a few days ago I was enjoying a cookie outside Brighton’s Jubilee library; I had been saving this treat and was really looking forward to it. Suddenly, as if from nowhere, and with the accuracy and speed of a missile, there swooped down one of the largest birds I have ever seen. Naturally I feared for both my life and my cookie (a high quality, white chocolate chip affair) and so tried to duck away. This only led to a further attack. I made what I thought was an intimidating, aggressive noise and the bird finally backed off. Things seemed rosy, my cookie was safe and my dignity was (just about) in tact.
Only then did I feel both the birds claws attach themselves to my head. The Gull had descended and secured itself to me in a second bid for the cookie. At this point I decided a perhaps the cookie was not worth the horror, and threw half of it (relinquishing the entire thing seemed extreme) down as a distraction. I ask anyone who thinks me a coward to consider the situation: I am alone, with a bird the size of a small dog attached to my head, and an increasing crowd of horrified onlookers.
I was lucky, the bird relented and I managed to retain some of my cookie. I have witnessed countless people however, some of them good friends, that have had their entire lunches snatched from their hands. I’ve seen ice creams plucked from innocent children and people forced to throw down the remnants of their chips. This is a war.
Multiple noise complaints have been made by Brighton residents who can’t sleep due to the seagull’s constant screeching. They contribute to litter levels as they rifle through bins and produce tons of waste, some onto unsuspecting bystanders below. These factors, coupled with consistent and truly terrifying dive bombing of residents, might actually make them a menace to society.
In 2015 a beloved pet dog in Cornwall was savagely attacked and pecked to death by seagulls. The distraught owners were told there was nothing that could be done, since the Herring Gulls that were responsible are a protected species. It is against the law to kill seagulls under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, which protects native species. In the most extreme and tragic case in recent years, pensioner Wilfred Roby died of a heart attack after being attacked by gulls in his back garden.
In 2015 after an attack on a pet tortoise in Cornwall, David Cameron called for a ‘big conversation’ to take place concerning the species, admitting that: ‘we do have a problem’. Since then however, nothing has been done to reduce their numbers. Should we continue to protect this species when they pose a significant threat to us and our pets?