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1968: Dover begins bird purge
It's Seagull Week in Dover. This is not, as you might expect, a celebration of the bird whose cry evokes the fresh sea air, fish 'n' chips on the prom and the White Cliffs looming over the ocean - but a purge of a creature regarded as a noisy and dirty pest.

The birds had the nerve to move from the world-famous cliffs to nest in the comfort of the chimney pots and roof tops of the town centre some years ago.

One theory suggests they were frightened away during the war by explosions in the Channel - another that they have been encouraged in by bird-loving townspeople who are feeding them.

Whatever the reason for the gulls' invasion, today residents and workmen are starting to remove hundreds of nests and eggs on Dover's buildings.

Dangerous

And this work is no laughing matter - it can be dangerous, especially if the eggs have hatched and the chicks are disturbed.

Then the egg-snatchers are likely to be dive-bombed by protective mother gulls.

The three-day annual event to rid the resort of gulls began in 1960 when Dover's Chamber of Commerce decided to tackle complaints of a deafening dawn chorus not to mention soiled cars and clothes.

Most Dover residents support the campaign, led by its organiser Arthur Blackman.

He told the BBC: "It's a great embarrassment for people in summer dresses - or any dress, come to that - having their clothes spoilt with these horrible birds."

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Eggs being collected from rooftop in Dover
Workmen are removing hundreds of eggs on rooftops in the town centre


In Context
Seagulls have been the bane of many a British seaside resort for decades. Their droppings are not only an "embarassment" but also damage buildings.

They have also been known to scavenge from rubbish bins and in some cases to attack people.

But since the introduction of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, it is against the law to kill seagulls or interfere with their nests.

However, Herring Gulls are recognised as being a public nuisance and can be humanely controlled by those owning or occupying the building on which they are nesting.

The council usually advises prevention as the best possible cure which involves using special wire, springs and safe plastic spikes to stop gulls from perching.

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