In defence of seagulls


The bad PR award of the week must surely go to seagulls.

If it isn’t pictures of a Larus Argentatus eating a whole rat in the Daily Mail it has been a 14 stone man being put in hospital by the flying terrors.

From the media hysteria it would seem the whole country is living through a set of Hitchcock’s The Birds.

One expert from the Gull Awareness League even telling any media outlets that would listen that it will be babies next, snatched from their cots in broad daylight.

Let’s have a cull seems to be the tabloid answer, when in doubt shoot first, ask questions later.

But according to seagull expert Peter Rock on the BBC culling may not be the answer, we need to study their behaviour and make a decision on how best to live with the seagulls based on evidence. To call them seagulls incidentally is a misnomer, there are many different species of gulls, none of them restricted to coastal areas specifically – the first breeding pair of gulls recorded this year for instance was in Leicester.  Gung Ho pest control from past experience said Mr Rock is simply displacing the problem elsewhere.

Anyway let’s get this in some sort perspective. What is it that they have actually done to deserve such a bad press apart from doing what birds do, look for food ?

No one has actually died or been mutilated by the beak of a gull yet which, is more than can be said for the nation’s favourite pet, dogs.

According to the Office of National Statistics (ONS) there are on average between two and six deaths every year by dog attacks over the last decade. There are also on average 6000 hospital admissions annually, the majority of them young children.

Where are the calls for mass culling of canines? Silly season in the media it may be, but one alleged killing of a family tortoise and few Aberdeen FC fans deprived of their half time pies does not warrant the forest of column inches and hours of airtime devoted to demonising an icon of seaside life.

They may not be as cute as dogs but they have hidden depths, just read Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach for a glimpse behind the squawking, dive bombing nuisances the media picture paints before advocating avian genocide.

Image by Arne Larson