A Hartlepool dad is keeping his children away from classes after he was attacked by nesting gulls in the school grounds.
Steve Young, 35, from Wansbeck Gardens, says he was attacked by one of the birds - which clawed the back of his head - when he was collecting his two sons from the town’s Stranton Primary School.
The birds have nested on the ground on a grassed area at the school and Mr Young says they are a danger to the children.
He has refused to take his sons Cobie Dent, five, and Kyle Dent, 10, back to the school. in Southburn Terrace, until the problem is resolved.
Stranton Primary School head teacher Neil Nottingham said they were unable to remove the birds as they are a protected species.
Mr Youmng said: “Since the school holidays in May there has been a nest in the playground with an egg in it and two adult gulls.
“Now the egg has hatched. The gulls have a chick and are attacking anyone who walks past. “I was attacked on Friday and the bird drew blood from my head. “I was just walking on the playground to pick my sons up from school when it swooped down and clawed the back of my head.” He added: “I told the school but they said they can’t do anything about it as the birds are protected. “I think they need to protect the kids, rather than protect the birds.
“My son was crying and said he doesn’t want to go back to school as he is fearing for his safety.”
Mr Nottingham said: “When we came back from the holidays at the end of May we found that these gulls have made a nest on the school site.
“We contacted Hartlepool Council and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) about the situation on June 6, but they have told us we can’t move the nest as they are protected. “We have cordoned off the area and informed the parents of the situation advising them to avoid the area. “We have not had any issues with other parents or pupils being attacked by the gulls.”
A spokesman from the RSPB said: “We would advise that the nest be left alone and that people give it a wide berth, as birds are very protective of their young.
“Once the chicks are less vulnerable the gulls calm down and become less protective.”
Seagull facts from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB)
1. Gulls will actively protect their chicks from hatching until they fledge and may get increasingly aggressive as the chicks get closer to fledging. For both lesser black backed gulls and herring gulls, the period from hatching to fledging is around 35 days.
2. Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 once a bird is nested they are protected meaning it is illegal to remove the nest.
But under General Licence, an exemption of that act, lesser black backed gulls can be killed if they are a threat to health and safety. However, herring gulls cannot be killed.
3. You can tell the difference between the gulls by looking at their legs. Lesser black backed have yellow legs, herring gulls have pink legs.
4. It is actually very unusual for them to nest on the ground as they generally prefer flat roofs.