GULLS: Man to blame for behaviour

In the debate about gulls, '˜seagulls' to the non-ornithologist, (Northumberland Gazette, February 9), Anne-Marie Trevelyan will be well aware of the directive protecting endangered bird species. Here are the facts.

The herring gull is now globally threatened so has been recently changed from amber to red in the official list of Species of Conservation Concern. Any individual attempting to destroy these legally protected birds risks prosecution.

Six species nest in the UK, but the only one likely to nest on town roofs is the herring gull. They traditionally nest on coastal cliff stacks, but some have taken to nesting on buildings owing to the deterioration of their natural coastal habitat, particularly reduced food supply (small fish and other marine organisms), largely caused by man-made pollution and disturbance.

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They are opportunistic and will take advantage of food litter in our streets, like fish and chips and take-aways. They actually do a good job in clearing it up, but would not be there at all if no such food was available. It is the litter louts who cause the problem. If the litter law was enforced more rigorously, the gull problem would not exist.

Gulls will bravely protect their young, like any parents, if threatened, and may snatch food at close quarters, but frequent direct ‘aggressive attacks’ on people are exaggerated hype, not normal behaviour.

The presence of gulls in a seaside town is something that enhances its holiday atmosphere and attraction to tourists.

Graham Bell,