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Safety fears prompt call for ‘gull cull’

SEAGULLS displaying aggressive behaviour in Tenby have prompted calls for a “gull cull” – amid fears for public safety.
Councillors in Tenby say herring gulls in the town are attacking builders on rooftops and families on beaches.
The town’s Mayor Sue Lane requested that the local authority be approached to see if there was a way of controlling the belligerent birds.
“It’s a dangerous issue health wise and it’s getting out of control,” she said. “So I feel the time has come to get in touch with the county council, to see what control methods can be brought in.
“They were once just sea birds, but now they’re fast becoming land birds and need controlling.”
Businesspeople in the town say incidents of food snatching have become more common as the birds become over-familiar with humans.
Mario Fecci, of Fecci’s Ice Cream Parlour, said the gulls had become skilful opportunist who were now an increasing nuisance.
“We’ve had customers who have bought cream cakes or ice cream and had them snatched right out of their hands.
“There is most definitely a problem with gulls here in Tenby, where it seems they are nesting.
“It’s not just a problem for holidaymakers. Living in the town ourselves, we are quite often woken up around 4am with very loud squawking.
“They have become quite aggressive. You see them walking up to people on the parade and not thinking anything of snatching chips out of their hands.
“They are not scared of people any more. But we all have a responsibility not to feed them. The seagulls are opportunists who are finding it much easier to survive off fish and chips on land instead of finding food at sea, where they should be.”
Builder Andrew Thomas said there had been incidents of dive-bombing.
“If you’re near their territory, and there are chicks in the nest, they can get quite aggressive.
“One of our boys just got out of the van to use the cashpoint, and a gull swooped down at him. He raised his arms and it flew off but you can see how people with young kids would be scared.”
Andrew Davies, Tenby Town Council’s clerk, said the town’s Civic Society had written to Pembrokeshire Council to request seagull-proof bin bags.
“These are bags to put domestic rubbish in that can’t get torn open by gulls. Apparently there have been pilots in the West Country.
“Although the town council and county council encourage residents to cover their rubbish, not everybody does and the gulls are very intelligent birds. They are getting to realise that they can get underneath the covers.”
The RSPB’s Grahame Madge “Gulls are very intelligent and live on their wits.
“They will capitalise on any way they can find food and will try to seize ice creams and fish and chips from people at places like Barry Island, or in cities like Cardiff.”
A spokesman for Pembrokeshire Council said any work to reduce seagull numbers was too late this year.
“We have advised Tenby Town Council that it is now too late in the year to commence a programme of gull control, if that is what they wish to do.
“Any such action would need to commence in January or February.We have also pointed out that any such control work is expensive and no appropriate budget currently exists within the County Council.”

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