Seagulls are ‘misunderstood’ says Hailsham bird sanctuary founder

Julia Gould, founder of Bird Aid, at her sanctuary in Hailsham

Julia Gould, founder of Bird Aid, at her sanctuary in Hailsham

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A large seagull sanctuary in Hailsham is challenging the view that gulls are vermin.

This comes after MPs recently debated how to tackle the ‘problem’ of gulls getting too aggressive.

But Bird Aid founder Julia Gould, who says she knows the birds’ character better than anybody, describes them as, “calm, stoic and accepting”.

With its own hospital and aviary, the centre looks after birds rescued by teams such as WRAS, and gives children with learning difficulties the chance to do work experience with its animals.

Mrs Gould said, “We have all sorts of nervous people who say they are actually just like ducks, not scary at all.

“We looked after 220 baby gulls last summer. We rear them or rehabilitate them, and if we can’t release them we keep them – we have a ‘no kill’ policy.

“The injuries are all caused by people. Cars, netting, some trapped in fishing equipment. We’ve had gulls with legs that dropped off after being wrapped in fishing line.”

Mrs Gould strongly disagrees with culling the animals. She said, “I have been bitten by more dogs and scratched by more cats but I don’t see anyone wanting to cull them. How many people have been killed by gulls?

“And what would the seaside be without gulls? Seagulls are adapting to what we are doing. They adapt or they die. We are squeezing them into a smaller space and complaining about them.”

The sanctuary is a charity run by a small group of volunteers, looking for more to help out. It is hosting an open day on Easter Sunday, with Easter events, egg hunts, stalls and the chance to see the animals and what they do.

Mrs Gould said, “We have a grant from The People’s Postcode Lottery to pay for a volunteer coordinator. She is due to start in April and will be recruiting more learning disabled youngsters and people to help support them.”

To help or find out more, visit the sanctuary’s Facebook page @birdaid, or visit www.birdaid.co.uk