A SEAGULL serial killer could be on the loose in Seaford – with 16 of the birds found dead in the last week.
The RSPCA has been inundated with reports from locals who keep finding bodies of gulls across the town and the sudden spike in deaths has led to wildlife experts suggesting someone is going round Seaford shooting the birds for fun.
RSPCA inspector Laura Bryant told the Gazette, “For there to be so many deaths in so short a time makes us think these poor gulls may be the victims of deliberate attacks – possibly shot.
“Shooting birds can cause a great deal of pain. Every year there are problems involving people attacking gulls and people need to remember that this is against the law.
“Gulls are as synonymous with the seaside as ice cream, but are all too often seen as a pest by people rather than part of the wildlife around them.”
The charity is now asking people to not only tell police if they know who is behind the killings, but to adopt a more tolerant approach to gulls in general.
Last year the RSPCA received 237 cruelty complaints about gulls locally which, as well as shooting, included destruction of nests, people throwing stones at them and actively trying to run them over in their cars. Already this year there have been 135 similar complaints.
It is illegal to harm any bird and anyone who does can face prosecution.
Gulls in particular are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, meaning any moves to control the population can only be done by someone holding an appropriate licence.
One place which helps nurse injured birds back to health is Mallydams Wood on the outskirts of Hastings, which regularly takes in stricken gulls from across East Sussex.
It has launched a campaign to improve people’s perception of gulls and hopes that by showing the bird’s good side, the number of attacks may reduce.
Bel Deering, the centre’s manager, said, “Lots of people – even animal lovers - have surprisingly fierce feelings against the poor old gull.
“They see them as pests and a nuisance rather than just opportunist creatures simply following the food source.
“We have hundreds of gulls in our centre in need of care every year. Sometimes the gulls are injured by natural causes, but others are definitely the victims of purposeful attacks – some of them shockingly savage.”
Anyone who finds an injured gull, or who has information of a gull being treated cruelly, should call the RSPCA’s cruelty line on 0300 1234 999.