York & North Yorkshire

Scarborough 'gull-mugging' decrease baffles council

Herring gull scavenging food Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Attacks by gulls have dropped significantly in the past year

A mysterious drop has been reported in the number of "gull-muggings" on the North Yorkshire coast.

There were 25 recorded incidents of birds attacking people or taking food in 2019 - a drop of about 50% on 2018.

Scarborough Borough Council, which has recorded the number of attacks since 2016, has introduced measures to try to reduce the number of attacks.

However, the authority said the fall could not be directly linked to those initiatives.

Those include the removal of herring gull nests and eggs, and campaigns urging the public not to feed gulls or drop litter.

The council's figures include Scarborough, Whitby and Filey, but the majority of attacks are reported in the Scarborough area, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The council is trying to to discourage people from littering

A report to councillors states: "There is no clear explanation for this dip in reported gull muggings in 2019 and it cannot be directly linked to any council initiatives.

"We will have to see if this trend continues in future years, before drawing any firm conclusions."

The report also says fewer eggs and nests were removed in 2019, with that fall being blamed on weather conditions and delays caused by a change in Natural England's process for securing the removal licence.

The council is being advised to discontinue this initiative in 2020, as gull populations have remained stable in the area despite the removal of nests and eggs over the past three years.

It is being urged to continue gull-proofing buildings and encouraging people not to feeding birds or drop litter.

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