Summit to tackle aggressive seagulls
The scourge of many a sea-side town has been placed squarely in the line of fire by a Westcountry council, which has proclaimed 'enough is enough'.
A Seagull Summit is being staged by East Devon District Council to give businesses and residents a helping hand in dealing with what, in many places, has become an aggressive nuisance.
Environmental health officer Janet Wallace, who is organising the event, said the issue of how to deal with seagulls was an emotive one.
"With seagulls there are always those who love them and those who hate them," she said.
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"It tends to get people quite animated.
"The idea for the summit came from that. We have a lot of people in Exmouth, Sidmouth and Seaton who complain about the seagulls' messing up the rubbish, fouling buildings and just being aggressive, particularly to anyone walking along with food in their hands.
"I think we've all seen seagulls snatch a pasty or ice cream from someone's hands.
"There's even a case of a seagull snatching a purse out of someone's hands and dropping it in the sea.
"But then there are people who think it's amusing to feed the seagulls and it gives them a lot of pleasure. They get upset if seagulls are harmed.
"On the other hand there are people who complain, saying feeding the seagulls on the beach attracts them to food and makes them aggressive."
The summit is aimed at giving advice to members of the public and helping businesses protect themselves against the birds.
"In some of the seaside towns seagulls are literally living on take-aways and we are trying to get across the message they should be living on fish not chips," she said.
Mrs Wallace said one solution was being offered by a local man who keeps birds of prey and has offered to fly them at seafront locations in January and February to encourage the gulls to nest elsewhere. "It wouldn't harm the seagulls, it would just scatter them," she said.
East Devon district councillor Tom Wright said something had to be done.
"We are organising this event as seagulls have been quite a problem and of particular concern to local businesses this year," he said.
"We want to work with local businesses to help them gain a better understanding of what action they can take to reduce the problem."
The event will be held on Thursday, October 31, at the council offices in Station Road, Sidmouth, between 6pm and 8.30pm.
To book a place, contact Jamie Buckley, community engagement and funding officer, on 01395 517569 or by emailing jbuckley@eastdevon. gov.uk by October 23.