Region warned over gull attacks

By David GreenIT could be like a scene from Alfred Hitchcock's classic film, The Birds, where killer flocks swoop on terrified humans.In the south of England, where gull populations are large, the birds are increasingly nesting on urban rooftops and attacking humans who, often inadvertently, go near their fledgling young.

By David Green

IT could be like a scene from Alfred Hitchcock's classic film, The Birds, where killer flocks swoop on terrified humans.

In the south of England, where gull populations are large, the birds are increasingly nesting on urban rooftops and attacking humans who, often inadvertently, go near their fledgling young.

But while no attacks have so far been reported in East Anglia, one researcher believes the region's gull population is set to soar - and warned that attacks on humans are inevitable.

Alarm about human attacks by gulls has been raised by ornithologist Peter Rock, who has predicted that Britain's gull population will increase considerably over the next 10 years.

Mr Rock, a former schoolteacher, estimated there are now about 130,000 pairs of herring gulls and lesser black-backed gulls nesting on rooftops across the country - and suggested the number was set to spiral.

Most Read

“We are talking about massive rises. Many of our towns and cities now support colonies of urban gulls. In a few years time all of them will,” he said.

Mr Rock predicted the Suffolk gull population alone could rise from 8,000 to almost 50,000 over the next 10 years.

Chris Durdin, RSPB spokesman in East Anglia, said there were only a handful of gulls nesting on rooftops in East Anglia and he was unaware of any history of assaults on humans.

Pairs had been reported nesting at the Port of Felixstowe and at the Ransomes Europark industrial estate in Ipswich, but there have been no reports of nests in residential areas.

Mr Durdin said attacks had occurred in other parts of the country where gulls were trying to protect young.

“They will swoop down if people get too close. Usually they swoop close by as a warning shot or defecate on their targets, but they can draw blood if they think their young are in danger,” he added.

Mr Durdin said gulls often found discarded food in towns, especially on rubbish tips, and were “opportunist” birds in terms of nesting sites.

david.green@eadt.co.uk

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter