Monday, August 12, 2013
A Sidmouth councillor is leading calls for the ‘plague’ of seagulls to be culled after controversial comments from one bird lover in last week’s Herald.
Rose Rodell said the town is home to incomparable ‘animal cruelty’, and drivers go out of their way to run over the creatures.
But her comments have divided the town and an opposition has gathered in favour of culling the ‘vermin’ she strives to protect.
Town councillor Ian Barlow said: “It’s a plague that’s out of control – Sidmouth should have seagulls but there’s a limit, and we’ve outgrown it.
“There needs to be a cull – it’s more humane than them being pushed into the road.”
He said measures to prevent them breeding would cost a lot of time and money, and would most likely be ineffective.
James Sharp, the president of the Sidmouth & District Hospitality Association, said: “We would love to have a cull, and we are going to work with Sidmouth Town Council and East Devon District Council, but this is not the right time to do anything.”
The Sidholme Hotel manager said hoteliers ask their guests not to feed seagulls to try to deter the birds from coming to the town and return to their natural habitat.
“You can’t say chips and fast food are good for their health, and it’s not fair on the people who don’t feed them who have food snatched out of their hands,” he said.
He praised the FolkWeek firework finale, but said it is nothing to do with the hoteliers.
“It’s a fantastic display, and they always fire a warning shot – the birds come back the next day,” said James.
An RSPB spokesman said: “A cull is not a long-term solution – it just opens the area to other birds.
“Far more effective is to use deterrents such as anti-perching devices to prevent the birds from landing.”
He said herring gulls are on the ‘red list’ of most endangered birds nationwide and they are in decline, although this may not be the impression in seaside resorts.
The spokesman added that the birds occasionally steal food from people, but that is a result of them being fed.
see THE ARGUMENTS FROM BOTH SIDES ON PAGE 3.