Page last updated at 11:09 GMT, Thursday, 19 January 2006

Rescued gull in shoplifting drama

Herring gull - Chris Gomersall/
The gull has now been released back into the wild

A rescued seagull became caught up in a shoplifting drama after being retrieved by two police officers in Durham.

The young herring gull was snared in fishing line hanging from a tree over the River Wear.

Two officers called in the fire brigade to assist in the delicate rescue operation, watched by 200 shoppers.

But before they got the gull to the station, they were called to arrest a shoplifter and were forced to ask store staff to care for the bird.

The officers had put the bird in a large cardboard box and began their walk to the city's police station.

Wildlife specialist

But they had only gone a short distance when they were re-directed to Marks and Spencer to deal with a reported shoplifting.

A woman in her 40s was arrested on the spot.

The bird had to be left in the care of the staff at the store while the woman was taken to the police station.

The PCs, mentor constable Jonathan Hammill and newcomer John Donoghue, returned to collect the bird two hours later and handed it on Inspector Eddie Bell, a wildlife specialist.

At the end of his shift Inspector Bell took the bird home, kept it in a warm shed overnight and fed it a mix of fish flavoured meat, bread, cheese and other food.

He said: "It was a juvenile, less than a year old, and was exhausted as a result of its struggle.

"It had no obvious injuries and perked up after the feed so I let it go.

"It sat on the roof of the shed, preened itself and flew off apparently none the worse for its unusual ordeal."

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