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Thursday, 12 July, 2001, 11:35 GMT 12:35 UK
Seagull savagery blamed on breeding
Seagull
Gulls often nest on flat roofs in seaside towns
Experts are blaming the breeding season for a spate of attacks by seagulls on people and pets around the UK.

The worst reported case this year involved a dog in Devon which bled to death after an attack by a seagull.

It is now the height of the seagulls' breeding season when many fledglings leave their nests for the first time.

Royal Society for the Protection of Birds spokesman Andrew South said: "We've made town living an easy alternative to seagulls' cliff-top nesting sites.


If there are babies wandering around, you've got to be careful with the seagulls swooping down

Fleetwood resident Carol Jackson
"They can live in chimneys and feed on our scraps and rubbish.

"The consequences of this are that they have their young in urban environments and become very protective.

"Our view is that seagulls don't set out to deliberately attack people but they view us as a threat."

The society said the fatal attack on a Yorkshire terrier earlier this month had been "a seagull's response" to the dog investigating a fledgling which had fallen from the nest.

Hospital problem

Patricia Dawson, 58, from Brixham, returned home to find her dog Poppy dead with a beak-sized hole in her head.

Another case this month involved gulls swooping and attacking people near Nairn Hospital in the north of Scotland.

Management was forced to put up 'Beware of the Gulls' signs and to re-route people through the main building.

In the latest incidents in Fleetwood, Lancashire, a man who runs a business putting up television aerials said he had trouble coping with the birds.

'Bird muck'

Another Fleetwood resident, Carol Jackson, said: "They're screeching at four or five in the morning. You're coming out and your car's completely covered in bird muck.

"If there are babies wandering around, you've got to be careful with the seagulls swooping down.

"It makes matters worse when local people are feeding them."

The RSPB's advice is to try to make nest sites on chimneys as inaccessible as possible with chicken-mesh or wire.

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See also:

14 Oct 00 | Scotland
Troublesome gulls inquiry call
20 Sep 00 | Scotland
Suburban seagulls lower the tone
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