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HAVE YOUR SAY: Seagulls prove a menace in Weymouth
Seagulls are causing problems in Weymouth. They have been blamed for swooping on people in search of food and ripping open rubbish bags. Others say they are a fact of life if you live or visit the seaside. We look at the issue
PEOPLE along Weymouth seafront are being harassed by swooping gulls which are causing a nuisance to businesses.
Traders and councillors say there have been more of the birds than ever this year and are calling for something to be done.
Daren Deadman, owner of The Boat café on the seafront said gulls are affecting his business.
He said: “We get terminal issues with the seagulls and I’m going to be speaking to the council about it to see what can be done.
“They’re scavengers and as soon as a table has been left they swoop down.
“I know that in London they have someone going around with a hawk which scares them away, we need something like that in Weymouth.
“It’s becoming a real problem, I’ve had them knocking glasses and plates off tables – it’s costing us money and affecting our business.”
Councillor Ray Banham, Mayor of Weymouth and Portland, said that the council is aware of the problem.
He added: “We are trying to think of a way that works to try and help stop it.
“I’ve definitely seen more gulls this year and I’ve seen them take food off plates when people are eating.
“The people to blame are the ones who feed them or drop litter.
“You are not supposed to feed them and there are enough signs around asking people not to.
“I think there should be fines brought into force to make people realise that you shouldn’t feed the seagulls.”
Mark Poulton, who runs the Punch and Judy show on the beach during the summer months, said they are a menace on the beach.
He said: “I see people getting swooped on and attacked every day.
“The other day a woman put some chips on the back of a pushchair and the seagulls came down and knock-ed the whole thing over complete with the child in it.
“Seagull droppings are really nasty and harmful, it’s a problem for the cafes round here too.
“If it gets much worse people won’t want to come to Weymouth and it will affect our tourism trade.
“It’s about raising public awareness that feeding the seagulls is just not acceptable, they’re pests.”
LARGE AND NOISY
HERRING gulls are large, noisy gulls that live around British coasts throughout the year.
Adults have light grey backs, white bodies, black wing tips and yellow beaks with a red spot.
Young birds are mottled brown.
The common gull is a smaller version of the herring gull and has no red spot showing on its beak.
Yellow-legged gulls are similar to herring gulls but with darker grey backs and bright yellow legs.
Lesser black-backed gulls are slightly smaller than a herring gull with a dark grey or black back and wings.
The United Kingdom is home to 40 per cent of the lesser black-backed gull population and the species is on the endangered species list.
'DON’T FEED THEM'
THERE is no law or by-law banning feeding gulls or other birds, but it is strongly discouraged.
A spokesman for Weymouth and Portland Borough Council said: “Gulls can cause problems such as noise nuisance, fouling on washing or cars and swooping at people, usually to protect their chicks or to snatch food.
“Councils have no statutory duty to take action against gulls but can give advice on how to deter birds.
“When eating outside around harbours or on the beach seagulls can swoop down and snatch food which can cause distress to adults and children.
“It is advised that people consider eating indoors or in sheltered places and not feed gulls.
“Make sure litter and food waste is put into bins properly.”
'DEFINITE HYGIENE PROBLEM'
SEAGULLS have been blamed for tearing apart bin bags spilling rubbish out into Weymouth town centre.
Echo reader Nigel Chainey, 64, a regular visitor to the resort, photographed seagulls as they descended on dozens of bags that had been dumped on St Thomas Street.
“There must have been about 10 gulls. It was horrible.”
But the incident showed more than just the greed of the birds, Mr Chainey said.
Onlookers saw the seagulls pulling dirty nappies out of the rubbish bags.
Mr Chainey added: “It was quite horrible really, everything was very unsavoury.
“There is a definitely a hygiene problem if this is happening regularly.
“The passers-by were very shocked, it doesn’t give a good impression of Weymouth.”
Borough councillor Sandra West also says something must be done.
She said: “It’s happened a few times now, but there seemed to be a particularly large amount of rubbish there on Monday.
“I was actually quite appalled by it. At first you could just hear squawking and then they started tearing the bags open.
“The rubbish was spread all over the pavement.”
Mr Chainey added: “Someone had to say something about it.
“Clearly the bags they are using are not keeping gulls out.
“All it would take to solve the problem is a couple of big wheelie bins.”
A spokesman for Dorset Waste Partnership, which is responsible for the collection of refuse, said the residents are entitled to free gull-proof bags.
He said: “We delivered bags to residents in April and left a card to those who were not in.
“Anyone living in the town centre can request gull-proof bags at the community centre in the Park District, or by calling 01305 838000 and the bags will be delivered to them.”
ALL PROTECTED SPECIES
ALL gulls, like other wild birds, are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
It is illegal to intentionally injure or kill any gull or to damage or destroy an active nest or its contents.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs can issue licences for control measures to be taken if there is a public health or safety risk but not if gulls are causing a nuisance or damaging property.
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