Crime warning after elderly man ‘attacks seagull with his stick’
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Police were called to Sidmouth seafront after reports an elderly man had attacked a seagull with his walking stick.
The incident took place in The Esplanade on Sunday at about 3pm.
A man, who wished not to be named, said an older couple were sitting on the busy seafront and eating chips - ‘with no effort to hide them’ - when a seagull swooped down to snatch food.
A little while later the bird swooped down again, which is when it is said the man ‘got into a rage’ and ‘hit the bird hard’ as it was getting away.
The witness said: “The poor creature twisted and flapped on the ground.”
He said a woman rushed over and picked up the seagull before telling off the attacker.
“It is very sad such cruelty has happened in Sidmouth, but it was wonderful and heart-warming the number of people that came forward to help,” said the witness.
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All species of gull are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, which makes it illegal to intentionally or recklessly injure or kill any seagull or damage or destroy an active nest or its contents.
The police spokesman said they were called to the scene after reports of an elderly man hitting a seagull with his walking stick, but added the man had been attacked by the bird while trying to eat.
He said they were unable to locate the man, but believed the seagull was fine and had flown away.
An RSPB spokesman said: “Actions like this are misguided because they may encourage gulls to respond more aggressively and we hope nobody else is tempted to act in the same way.
“We can only condemn using a stick to hit a bird, or any other animal for that matter, and would remind everybody that it is an offence to intentionally harm a wild bird.”
Last week, the Herald reported a warning issued by a grandfather who was left with a sliced lip after a seagull attack on Sidmouth seafront.
Ian Stewart, a former Exmouth councillor, wanted to warn people to ‘watch where they eat’ after an incident when he, his wife and two grandsons stopped for a sandwich and a bird swooped down and lunged for his lunch, slicing his lip in the processs.