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Friday, 16 August, 2002, 15:28 GMT 16:28 UK
Licensed to cull
Seagulls
Seagulls have been blamed for several attacks
Scotland's councils can train their sights on seagulls who pose a threat to human life, they have been told.

Deputy rural development minister Allan Wilson has confirmed that local authorities have the power to authorise a shoot-to-kill policy against the birds.

The advice follows a number of reports of gulls attacking people in various parts of Scotland.


This is a very serious problem and the executive have a responsibility to ensure that adequate steps are taken

Fergus Ewing

They have been known to dive-bomb humans to protect their young.

Last month retired ambulance driver, Wilfred Roby, 80, died from a heart attack when he was attacked while clearing a nest from his garage in Benllech, Anglesey, Wales.

Since January there have been reports of gulls attacking people in towns and villages along the Aberdeenshire coast, Lossiemouth in Morayshire and the centre of Edinburgh.

One hospital security guard needed emergency treatment in the Scottish capital after a dive-bombing herring gull knocked him to the floor.

Fergus Ewing, the Scottish National Party MSP for Inverness East, has also been a target.

Unpleasant experience

Mr Ewing said he had been threatened by a swooping seagull whilst out jogging.

He said: "I know what it's like and it is not a pleasant experience.

"The seagulls will stop short of actually physically attacking a person but they will swoop.


Adequate powers to take the necessary steps are already available to local authorities

Allan Wilson
"This is a very serious problem and the executive have a responsibility to ensure that adequate steps are taken and perhaps to come up with a national plan."

In answer to a written question from the SNP MSP, Mr Wilson said a variety of control measures were available to local authorities.

"In a situation where it is considered that attacks from seagulls pose a threat to human life, it is the responsibility of local authorities to decide upon the most appropriate course of action.

"Adequate powers to take the necessary steps are already available to local authorities as part of their environmental health responsibilities and this may include lethal control of seagulls," he said.

Mr Wilson said the best way to prevent attacks was to stop seagulls nesting in the first place.

Waste management

He said: "This can be done by bird-proofing buildings and or exercising scaring measures.

"Consideration should also be given to ensuring that waste management practices are sufficient to minimise the availability of waste food by disposal in suitable containerisation."

While councils can apply for a license from the Scottish Executive to cull seagulls, individuals are prohibited from killing them.

See also:

05 Jul 02 | UK
05 Jul 02 | Wales
20 Jun 02 | England
27 Jul 01 | UK
15 Apr 02 | Scotland
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