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Friday, 5 July, 2002, 11:08 GMT 12:08 UK
Pensioner 'killed' by gull attack
Gulls
Hundreds of gull attacks are reported each year
A north Wales pensioner collapsed and died after he was attacked by gulls.

Wilfred Roby was cleaning droppings from his garage roof in Benllech, Anglesey, when it is believed he upset some nesting birds.


I told him to calm down and leave the birds alone

Neighbour Brian Sowter

Neighbours say they flew at the 80-year-old retired ambulance driver and forced him to retreat back down the ladder he was using.

Shortly afterwards, while working in the front garden of his home, he suffered a suspected heart attack.

He was taken to hospital after the incident, which happened on Wednesday morning, but died later.

Neighbour Brian Sowter said: "I saw him in the garden and he was very worked up.

Gull
Gulls are protective of their young

"He had the ladder up and he was complaining about the mess the birds had made.

"I told him to calm down and leave the birds alone.

"He went to cut the grass in the garden and the next thing I knew I saw neighbours running towards the house and Wilf was on the ground.

"While we were there the gulls were still coming down and screeching and attacking us."

Councillor John Hughes confirmed there was a problem with "dive-bombing" gulls in the area.

Distress call

He said: "I go out jogging and they have dive-bombed me on a number of occasions.

"I am not a bird expert but it seems to me that the female makes some kind of distress call and the male comes after you.

"I try to stick close to walls and trees when I am jogging so they don't have a clear path to get at me. I believe they are worse when they have young to protect."

A spokesman for Anglesey County Council confirmed that complaints about gulls were on the increase, particularly about damage to roofs and blocked gutters.

Problem

He warned the public not to try to remove nests from their property as seagulls would be "aggressive".

"Seagulls will always be a problem in coastal resort areas and there will be occasions when they nest on people's property," he said.

"The removal of a nest from private property is a matter for the homeowner but we would not advise anyone to attempt this as adult birds will aggressively protect their young.

"Expert contractors would be needed to carry out a task of this nature."

Numbers of black backed and herring gulls increased dramatically in the UK last century and the birds are largely dependent on domestic refuse for food.

Eggs are laid in April and May and take about a month to hatch, meaning many gulls are likely to have a clutch of chicks now.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Former neighbour of Wilfred Roby, David Roberts
"Some people are actually frightened of going out"
See also:

05 Jul 02 | UK
27 Jul 01 | UK
15 Apr 02 | Scotland
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