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Friday, 27 July, 2001, 11:06 GMT 12:06 UK
Gulls are gonna get you
Gulls are gonna get you
The headlines shriek warnings about the rising gull menace, and now a marauding bird has seen off Royal Mail posties in central London. Why are seagull attacks on the increase?

Heading for the seaside this summer? Then hang on to your chips, the gulls are back in town.

July has been a busy month for grumpy gulls. First a pet dog was pecked to death in Devon, then several pensioners suffered cuts and gashes in a string of bird strikes in seaside towns.

What have gulls ever given us?
Flock of Seagulls haircuts
Gull-wing cars
Eric Cantona's quote comparing the media to seagulls
Now, posties are refusing to deliver mail to a quiet mews in central London following attacks by a vicious seagull.

Dr John Firth, who lives in the mews, describes the suspect as a "slightly psycho herring gull" that has taken up residence on a neighbour's roof.

Not only does the gull appear to be angered by the red mail bags, Dr Firth told BBC Radio Four's Today programme that he saw the bird dive-bomb someone heading for the local pub.

At this time of year - the height of the nesting season - the gulls in question may be mother birds trying to protect their chicks.

Beaked and dangerous

But seagulls are also scavengers, attracted to resort towns in increasing numbers because of the easy pickings to be had from snacking holidaymakers.

Seagull
"Feed me"
Gull numbers are up about 7% a year in our towns, but the total population is 40% lower than 25 years ago.

The more they gorge on discarded chips and sandwiches, the less inclined they'll be to look for fish.

Peter Exley, of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, says as humans further encroach on the sea and coastal hills, gulls find it easier to live in urban areas.

"There is evidence that some gulls are becoming less scared of humans as they're getting fed by them and more used to being around them.

"An animal that's lost its fear can be dangerous. They've got a two-inch long beak and they will use it."

You have been warned.


Your comments:

Grumpy, nasty, Hitchcock-esque gulls have invaded Belfast. A couple of days ago my friend and I were attempting to walk into the city centre when a gull dive-bombed like some kamikaze warrior. It hit my friend with its beak and drew blood (just a scratch). I tried to run away but couldn't as I was keeled over laughing my head off. I looked up and saw my friend running down the street with gull in hot pursuit.
Colm Mcafee, Northern Ireland

The gulls in the south-west seem to have a nasty streak. I was down there last week and saw them attacking some people leaving their house! I saw another one wait until a poor guy had finished washing his car, land on it and then... well you can guess the rest.
Paul, London

Whilst in Disneyworld, Florida, last year I purchased a large waffle. As I carried it towards my family on a paper plate, a gull flew down and grabbed it. The vender was so amused that he gave me a free replacement.
Caron, England

A gull has taken to hunting pigeons in Glasgow's George Square. It will pick a bird and stalk it, seperating it from the group. The gull kills by choking and shaking its victim.
Brian, Scotland

I have been attacked by a flock of the blighters whilst out running on the coast of Cumbria. Increasing my pace and flailing my arms to prevent being clawed, I raised a good few laughs from locals watching from a nearby pub.
Matthew, London

It's little wonder gulls find a need to attack people for food. Not too long ago they had a plentiful supply of food via the fishing boat. There are very few fishing boats coming in to the local harbours. Their source of fish is just about drying up, so they resort to eating the fast food we throw away.
Jen, Cumbria, UK

One of my cats had his bottom pecked by a gull recently, showing a breathtaking disregard for the conventional "pecking order" attached to physique.
Catherine, UK

Whilst I have yet to be dive-bombed (shouldn't be too long living in Brighton), I do find their incessent squawking and destruction of bin bags extremely annoying. Surely we should consider a cull as it seems every rooftop has its fair share of "flying rats".
Dan, Brighton

One relieved itself on my head as I ate fish and chips whilst with my girlfriend on a day out, visiting the beautiful north-east coastline. I had no intention of giving a pesky gull any of my delicious chips. I suspect the gull sensed this and reacted accordingly.
Stephen Davison, UK

Gulls have become an integral part of life in Bath. This year they are no longer a slight irritation but, nesting on our roof, have kept us awake as the mother shouts encouragement to the chicks. After a week of sleepless nights, I evicted them from the roof, much to the annoyance of the mother.
Chris Murphy, Somerset

In Mevagissy, Cornwall, we watched a gull take bait from a fishing line in mid-air as it was cast, without being caught on the hook.
Vicky, UK

I saw a herring gull in Cornwall snatch a double ice cream cornet from a child's hand and proceed to swallow it whole.
Nelson, England

Been dive-bombed by a grumpy gull? Send us your seagull stories using the form below. If you prefer to use your own e-mail program, send them to newsonline.features@bbc.co.uk

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 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Lainy Malkani reports
"Residents have been told to pick up their own letters from their local post office"
See also:

19 Jan 01 | UK
In defence of pigeons
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