MPs discussed seagulls stealing people’s chips and how to tackle the ‘flying rats’ problem in Parliament this week (Tuesday, February 7) – with suggestions for gull-proof buildings and ‘contraception’.
Conservative MP Oliver Colvile led the debate in the House of Commons after a constituent had his food stolen by an ‘overly-aggressive’ seagull.
Gulls are a common sight in seaside towns across the county and the issue of what to do with the protected scavengers is a divisive one.
Mr Colvile suggested new buildings should be seagull-proof, with spikes to discourage nesting or nets.
Culling the birds was discussed but the MPs agreed it would be hard to achieve due to herring gulls being a protected species, despite a marginal support for it in a YouGov poll.
“Although there is marginal support for culling gulls, I support the RSPB’s position – and, it seems, that of the majority of honourable members in the debate –that that should not be the immediate way forward,” Sue Hayman MP said, “We should instead look at non-harmful deterrents as a priority.”
Alternatives proposed by the MPs included swapping the seagulls’ eggs for fake ones, calling on council’s to provide gull-proof refuge sacks, and educating people not to feed them.
As well as stealing food, seagulls have also been blamed for killing a dog and a tortoise, with fears the summer could see ‘gull wars’ on the high streets.
Nigel Guy, of Discrete Pest Control in Polegate, said, “Something needs to be done to keep numbers down.
“In Scotland they remove the eggs and put dummy eggs, that’s a way around it.
“A lot of people don’t realise that pest control can’t cull them, although we can get an order from DEFRA to do so. But it’s not something we want to do.
“They are finding it harder to get food which is why they snatch things out of people’s hands, and seagulls are very protective and aggressive over their young.
“A young lady had a family living on her bungalow roof. A neighbour didn’t understand how frightening that was for her and her baby every time she left the house.”
Mr Guy recommends that anyone having issues with seagulls should talk to a professional pest controller.