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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  • Comment number 134.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 133.

    We go to foreign lands, take the land and kill off the natives. We take the land where foxes once roamed and then kill them when they become a mild nuisance. Looks like we're starting on the seagulls now.

    When we want something, we take it and anything we consider a nuisance or a threat, we kill off. This is nothing new, this is just the selfish nature of humans.

  • rate this

    Comment number 132.

    They need culling just like most others, badgers,rats,squirrels,pidgeons etc, at least we humans can educate ourselves with birth control albeit in the West only.

  • rate this

    Comment number 131.

    A familiar story.
    We feel sorry for them, we feed them, they become aggressive & demanding and turn on us wanting more and more hand outs.

  • rate this

    Comment number 130.

    I saw a seagull predate a live pigeon the other month, about 4 miles inland.
    Never seen anything like it in my life, even on the local shoreline its the crows who predate on the weak pigeons.

    They're adapting, it's Darwinism.

    It's a pity we couldn't apply some Darwinism to Westminster.

  • rate this

    Comment number 129.

    First we destroy their environment, by stripping the sea of fish.

    Then when they adapt by moving inland...we kill them.

    MPs are the sole cause of this problem, the EU fisheries policy they all embraced has virtually wiped out fish stocks around the UK.

    pathetic people

  • rate this

    Comment number 128.

    Glad our MPs are dealing with the important things in society!!!
    The only reason Sea Gulls are so numerous is because we are a dirty and wasteful society. Maybe we should spend more time looking at ourselves and less trying to destroy the symptoms instead of the disease.

  • rate this

    Comment number 127.

    Whenever I hear the sound of seagulls I am transported automatically back to my pleasant childhood days of growing up in Teignmouth, Devon.
    I say `leave them alone`.Live in harmony,they are part of the British coast.

  • rate this

    Comment number 126.

    What are we paying these chaps? £60,000 + a year , plus exes>
    This is a non debate, no wonder we are borrowing £1 billion per month, its a travesty, we need some focus and determination in the MP's of today and we are not seeing it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 125.

    Will Mp also get the same treatment as the Seagulls?

  • rate this

    Comment number 124.

    Seagulls are not just a nuisance, they are a menace. In our neighbourhood they have wrecked house roofs, broken satellite dishes and attacked children eating food on the beach. All during the summer, they kept our whole block awake most of the night and they have been attacking and killing each other at night too. @fancynancynoo moving because of seagulls is not a solution to the problem is it?

  • rate this

    Comment number 123.

    kill them all i live in cornwall and people are considering starting a massive hunt if this issue is ignored

  • rate this

    Comment number 122.

    Shoot them, easy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 121.

    I live in Brighton and I must admit sometimes they can be annoying especially when the babys are born as they are really noisy. But living by the sea its just one of things. I dont think we should mess with nature. (And yes I admit I have fed them before, especially the babies!) Naughty I know but I cant bare seeing them hungry !

  • rate this

    Comment number 120.

    "We in Brighton and Hove" might like painting a seagull on the stadium but the birds make life a misery and cost a fortune in prevention and clean-up measures, not only to the council but to building owners.
    Once again an MP speaks without knowing anything about the situation whereof he pontificates.

  • rate this

    Comment number 119.

    Oh for goodness sake! You blame the birds but think why are these birds are a nuisance? .All the scrap food lying about, giving them a wider diet. These birds are just like many other species, eat just about anything they can get given the chance. Lets face it, if you were a gull would you face a rough sea just to get a meal or would you rather go down the local dump or the nearest carpark?

  • rate this

    Comment number 118.

    Some of us are very ready to start reducing the population of any species of animal or plant which seems plentiful - or for which we have a mild dislike. There is, of course one puzzling exception, and there are seven billion of us and increasing. Perhaps we should learn to balance our own population and it's effects on the rest of the world before casually exterminating other species.

  • rate this

    Comment number 117.

    "Seagulls have had it too good for too long."

    Should read - "MP's have had it too good for too long."

  • Comment number 116.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 115.

    The Suffolk issue is cause by my nan (aged 91). She chucks out her kitchen scraps onto the garden and then delights as the seagulls swarm down to take them away. She is a feisty lady and won't be told. Perhaps a law banning people from feeding them (gulls, not nans) would help?


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