MPs declare war on aggressive seagulls

bbc Beaked baddies: Seagulls are known for their aggressive attitude - and big wingspan

Seagulls have had it too good for too long.

A seaside home, a constant supply of fast food, free love, and the ability to strike instant terror into rooftop aerial fitters: what's not to like?

But, just when they thought it was safe to go back into the kebab shop bin bags, these large birds have met their nemesis.

Britain's MPs - at least a few of them - have declared war.

At a Westminster Hall debate, elected representatives from left and right queued up to berate gulls.

Peter Aldous, the Conservative MP for Waveney, which includes the town of Lowestoft, complained of the "indiscriminate" airborne defecation blighting the beautiful county of Suffolk.

"It means that householders cannot hang out their washing and windows. Cars and garden furniture are continually being fouled and then cleaned," he said.

"One household I know has stopped holding its annual family barbecue.

"Relaxing in the garden is no longer possible, while soiled clothes, sheets and towels have to be thrown away."


Gulls' early-morning screeching, particularly during the summer, was also affecting people's quality of life.

The debate in full: from BBC Democracy Live

Mr Aldous argued that the birds' behaviour had worsened in the last five to six years.

In fact it had got so bad in some place that they were forcing down house prices.

And gulls seemed to be getting bigger, with wings-spans often reaching five feet.

They had attitude to match, Mr Aldous added.

Many people, including some aerial fitters working on a roof in his constituency, had been "dive-bombed".

There was no "silver bullet" to solve the gull problem, Mr Aldous informed his colleagues.

Culling was discussed as an option. However, as total European numbers of some gulls - including the herring gull - are actually falling, such a course of action is banned under "biodiversity" laws unless a licence is obtained.

Perhaps it was better to get little less hawkish in tackling the coastal crime wave.

Wing man

The ornithologically named Labour MP John Woodcock offered a brave suggestion.

He urged the government "give consideration to whether gull contraceptives could be applied and whether these could be an effective way of limiting the burgeoning population in urban areas".

It was also recommended that bins be shored up to prevent access to chip bags, tuna tins and other treats.

The consensus was that gulls, who have been moving inland and into large towns in greater numbers recently, were about as welcome as Viking marauders at a Women's Institute picnic.

But Conservative Mike Weatherley, who represents Hove and Portslade, on the Sussex coast, was a lone voice in defence - the ultimate wing man.

He said: "In Brighton and Hove we actually quite like seagulls and, indeed, their image does adorn our wonderful new stadium."

Environment minister James Paice had several recommendations for keeping numbers down.

How about swiping gulls' eggs from nests and replacing them with fakes, so they never hatch?

Or letting off fireworks to stop them swooping on to landfill sites - one of their favourite eateries?

Mr Paice reminded the MPs there was a "range of tools" available, adding that he hoped that "sooner or later" people would "be able to sleep at night".

Does an age of austerity beckon for these feathered fiends?



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  • rate this

    Comment number 74.

    I love animals but in this case I'm struggling to see what the fuss is about. Why not come up with a few ideas to AVOID a cull? Litter is certainly a huge problem & the fact is seagull populations have gotten too high - and yes, I agree that so have human populations & we need a few ideas for reducing our own numbers too! (actually less humans = less rubbish = less seagulls, problem solved!)

  • rate this

    Comment number 73.

    I think the the main problem here is one of noise and excrement.... Maybe in that case we ought to wage war on the MPs involved in this nonsense - as they talk (loudly) more of it than any seagull can drop......

  • rate this

    Comment number 72.

    Yes, and my children still rag me about it now. They laugh, my wife laughs, I laugh and the seagull looked sated too! It may not have been nice, but really!
    I once stood on a hillside with a bear staring at me from about 20 yards. Worried then, but laugh about it now. Let it go!

  • rate this

    Comment number 71.

    When people cooked, particularly during and just after the second world war, there were no easy pickings for the gulls, therefor no problem. Why should we blame the gulls for our wasteful behaviour? What is needed is for people to again feel grateful for having sufficient food, look at the poor in Sudan, our waste would be a banquet.

  • rate this

    Comment number 70.

    "One household I know has stopped holding its annual family barbecue."

    OH NO! I thought that was because of the weather, anyway. Why is it that some people seem to think a dislike for living near a wild animal can be solved with a cull of said animal? Yes, seagulls/foxes/rats are a nuisance, but they're only reacting to the environment we have forced upon them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 69.

    I was lucky enough to visit California (actually liked it there). Seagulls there were big but not a nuisance. Surprise, surprise, there were no overflowing bins nor litter in the streets.

    But we're discussing seagulls and playing the fiddle while our country goes up in flames. Well, as long as we have reality TV & soaps who gives a flying rodent anyway? "If I had the wings of a seagull....."

  • rate this

    Comment number 68.

    All Seabirds are sacred to the Goddess of Love Aphrodite and contraception is out of the moral question!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 67.

    Simple answer is to introduce a few Peregrine Falcons into the area. Peregrinate Falcons will quite happily nest in the Town Hall Clock tower if there is a ready food supply as hand.

    The seagulls would soon find somewhere else to go.

  • rate this

    Comment number 66.

    "And gulls seemed to be getting bigger, with wings-spans often reaching five feet."

    They must be mutating too.

    Oh hang on! A 5 ft wingspan is normal for an adult Herring Gull. Idiot.

  • rate this

    Comment number 65.


    I live in Brighton. Honestly, I don't know ANYONE who likes seagulls. It's not just having them steal food from you, or defecate on you, it's also the noise..."

    Really? You dont know anyone in Brighton who likes them? Well, don't generalise - I live in Brighton and I know many many people who like them - there are plenty who don't and plenty who are indifferent.

  • rate this

    Comment number 64.

    I live just outside Cardiff, which has 3,300 breeding pairs, the largest urban population of seagulls in the world. I have to say that they tend to be not much of a nuisance, but when they do, look out! I was once dive-bombed by one at Cardiff Bay - no doubt protecting eggs, and it was quite an experience.
    The solution to them is to not leave out scraps of food from take-aways. It is in our hands.

  • rate this

    Comment number 63.

    I wonder if any of the 'seagull lovers' on this page have ever had their dinner taken out of their hand by one. I live in Cardiff and the gulls have been getting increasingly aggressive over the last few years. Im all for a reduction in their numbers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 62.

    Greater control of disposing of our rubbish is the answer. Use domestic waste to fuel power stations instead of providing seagull landfill buffets. Tougher penalties for people who don't secure their bins properly. My healthy young student neighbours seem unable to close the lid on their wheelie bin much to the delight of our urban vermin - the fox. Clean up our waste- no more seagull problem!

  • rate this

    Comment number 61.

    A lot more could be achieved by changing the way we deal with food waste. The birds are opportunistic and make their living off our dirty ways. Remove the opportunity and the problem will go away. More of a problem in my opinion is the growing populations of alien species. For example in my town feral parakeets are breeding in every increasing numbers. Now there's a bird that can screech.

  • rate this

    Comment number 60.

    Well we live in Bushey Herts apparently one of the furtherest points from the sea and we have loads of seagulls! Yes they are noisy, yes they make a mess sometimes. But why do we think they are not entitled to live where they wish? They only attack if they are trying to protect their nests and young. Why would you move to the coast if you didn't like seagulls for goodness sake?

  • Comment number 59.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 58.

    Some people have foxes, some have traffic noise while some have Scallies trying to break and enter at ever opportunity. You have seagulls - live with it! Why should they lie down and die for your prim life styles?

  • rate this

    Comment number 57.

    I live in Worthing where seagulls are a pain in the Ar--
    The sooner they are culled the better

  • rate this

    Comment number 56.

    Seagulls made 2 nests on my roof last spring. My garden was covered in poo and the hungry birds could have attacked my small children at any time. It discusted me when I was told by the council that they are protected and they couldn't do anything about it. I'm pleased the MPs are at least discussing this issue. I live miles away from the sea. Same goes for foxes.

  • rate this

    Comment number 55.

    Let be blunt here, why look at gulls, when we should focuss on what we are doing to our enviroment. MPs have more on their plate, with the Euro crisis, then to look at a bird trying to survive on the handouts of our waste ful society. I am sick and tired of blame our animal friends for everything .....we, humans, have a lot to answer for !


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