A FATHER is demanding authoritative action against the rise in seagull attacks after his one-year old baby was targeted by the swooping birds.
Hundreds of people in the highlands have complained about confrontation with feathered foes, suggesting that the gulls are becoming increasingly fearless in their hunt for food around humans.
One such complainer was Clarky Mitchell. The 39-year old witnessed his own baby being targeted during an outdoor lunch with his family. Afterwards Mr Mitchell took to social media to complain about the problem and received over 300 messages in response.
“I have heard horrific stories about children being targeted and lots of people being physically injured,” Mitchell said.
“People’s welfare is coming under threat.
“I heard of an old guy at the cash machine who had £10 taken from him. I have heard of another man who has just moved house, but can’t go into his garden.
“We have had lots of people saying their children are afraid to go out.”
Mitchell has met with representatives of the Moray Council to try and force some action. It’s a tricky issue for normal members of the public since seagulls are a protected by law.
Mitchell is insisting he will not give up the fight until the council does something about it.
“It’s a Moray-wide problem and we have heard from people all over. I would say that a couple of thousand people have already contacted us.
“We are having decent weather, and yet people can’t go down to the park because they are being swooped. It’s affecting the tourism as well.
“I’m not letting this go. This is just step one and I want to see some action.”
For the time being, at least, it does seem that Mitchell and his supporters will have to wait for a solution. A Moray Council spokesman has stated that they are restricted in what they can do to affect the behavioural patterns of the birds.
“The fact is that, whether people like it or not, gulls are protected by law and the council is constrained in what it can do, as is everyone else,” he said.
“There has been an increase over the years in the number of gulls nesting in urban areas and this issue is not unique to Moray.”
A measure that can be taken is the application for licenses issued under Section 16(1) of the Wildlife Conservation Act (1981) to help control the birds.
This option has been suggested by the Scottish National Heritage as the best course of action.
“We understand that breeding gulls can cause problems for people when they nest on or near buildings,” a spokesman for the organisation said.
“All breeding birds are protected by law. However, this does not mean that there is nothing you can do when problems arise.
“There are two types of licences available - general and individual - depending on the species of gull and the purpose of the actions you want to take.”