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Last Updated: Wednesday, 25 June, 2003, 06:40 GMT 07:40 UK
Seagull-attacked posties cover up
Postman Adam MacLean
Dive-bombing birds have carried out a spate of attacks
Postmen and women in an Ayrshire town have been issued with protective headgear and are carrying sticks after attacks by dive-bombing seagulls.

Residents say the aerial assaults in Kilmarnock are getting so bad they want the Scottish Parliament to come up with a pest-control solution.

A petition about the birds will be handed in by Wellpark Residents Action Group to MSPs on Wednesday.

It is claimed the gulls - which are a protected species - have been attacking people, staging noisy fights in the early hours of the morning and soiling cars and buildings.

Postman Adam MacLean, along with his colleagues, was issued with helmets and sticks to fend off the flying attacks when the birds were breeding last season.

He said: "They are vicious, if you don't duck you will definitely get hit.

We discovered that the best thing to do was to remove the nests as they were being built and then put these sorts of spikes on the nest places
Jane Overton
Wellpark Action Group
"They are attacking dogs and cats as well. People around here are taking their dogs and cats in."

One resident, Derek Ford, said that during the last two years he has been struck five times - twice while on his motorbike.

The town's herring gull and greater black backed gull population has been steadily increasing in recent years.

In Scotland, there are estimated to be 10,000 nesting pairs which at this time of the year often become aggressive to protect their young.

A number of deterrents have been tried in communities across Scotland - from live hawks to plastic owls, de-nesting and the spiking of chimney stacks.

But these only move the problem around.

Research pledge

Jane Overton, secretary of the Wellpark Action Group, said fighting off the gulls has not been easy.

She said: "We discovered that the best thing to do was to remove the nests as they were being built and then put these sorts of spikes on the nest places."

Wellpark has seen an improvement this season in both the number and behaviour of the birds.

But Ms Overton said she recognised that getting rid of the problem from one area meant moving it to another.

"The only thing a community can do to protect themselves is to displace the problem to another community. That is why we felt the issue should be brought to the attention of the Scottish Parliament.

"It needs to be looked at in a national dimension."

The problem was brought to the parliament last November and a promise was made to conduct research into how best to tackle it.

However, nothing has been made public since.

Experts say the best solution is to cut off the gulls food supply by controlling litter.


WATCH AND LISTEN
BBC Scotland's John Knox
"Our town centres have become the latest feeding grounds"



SEE ALSO:
'Super sacks' thwart seagulls
05 Jan 03  |  England
Licensed to cull
16 Aug 02  |  Scotland
Gulls are gonna get you
27 Jul 01  |  UK News


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