We should cohabit pleasantly with seagulls

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Seagull

The seagull has been demonised as a nuisance and a pest. A lot of the problem stems from the fact that people discard takeaway food which encourages seagulls to feed on human food.

Seagull – Getty Images

We know that seagulls in seaside towns divebomb people to steal their chips and they wake up people with their loud calls. It appears that since the 1950s the news media has been demonising the seagull. Before that date they were seen in a far more positive light.

Sarah Trotter, an assistant professor of law at the LSE, has decided that people should start to learn to cohabit pleasantly with seagulls. She likes their call and she is correct in saying that they add to the ambience of seaside towns.

“If they are in urban areas that are an important connection to nature. They are quite beautiful birds and I like their call.” – Sarah Trotter

I completely agree with Sarah Trotter. People need to connect more with nature and we need to better cohabit with wild species of all kinds. The fact of the matter is that councils are largely failing in their demonisation of seagulls by spending almost £1 million a year tackling what they consider to be a nuisance. Many admit that they’ve failed to solve “the problem”.

Measures taken by councils include birds of prey to disrupt their nesting, spikes and bird netting, devices which scare the birds away such as plastic owls and other methods.

“Councils are expending significant time and resources on measures that are not only largely ineffective but that also stem from, and further reinforce, the narrative that urban-nesting gulls are indeed urban pests.” – Sarah

East Devon District Council, in 2017, was the first local authority to make it an offence punishable by a fixed £80 fine to feed seagulls. As it happens no fines have been issued but this local law does contribute to the perception that seagulls are nuisance animals.

It is time to change. I’d like to add that we should apply the same change of attitude towards pigeons. Pigeons are clever animals with superb navigation skills. A lot of people promote the idea that they are pests which encourages irresponsible people to kill them sometimes in the most brutal way. This is not the way to cohabit with our wild cousins.

The study by Sarah Trotter has been published in the Journal of Law and Society.

There is an interesting story in the Independent newspaper which reports that seagulls have become drunk after drinking alcohol. They apparently stink of alcohol and some have died as a consequence. Once again this is an example of seagulls scavenging on human food. They become habituated to living in human settlements and the urban environment with people and people don’t like it but people have encouraged it by leaving food or alcohol lying around.