Should we use anti-gull drones to tackle problem seabirds?

Seagulls swooping.
Seagulls swooping.

They’re a familiar sight about town, gobbling up rubbish and calling loudly from the rooftops.

But our feathered friends have proved something of a menace in recent years, with a number of food thefts and swoop attacks reported in recent years.

A woman was left bloodied after an attack by a gull in Hartlepool earlier this year, and there have been cases reported of herring gulls swooping on shoppers stealing food from shoppers in South Shields and Sunderland.

The incidents have led to calls for a cull. But a councillor from Cumbria has come up with a hi-tech alternative to help seaside towns cope with the problem: anti-gull drones.

Councillor Graham Roberts suggested using flying robots to destroy eggs laid by the gulls.

He intends to raise the idea at a meeting of Copeland Borough Council next week in response to a boy in Whitehaven being “traumatised” when a gull stole an ice cream out of his hand.

“Anybody with any food near their face could have their nose or eye pecked,” he said

“People don’t want to be in fear of being attacked by seagulls.”

Spraying gull eggs by hand risks attack from the birds and both that method, and using a drone, would require a licence because seagulls are otherwise a protected species.

“It’s frightening. We’ve got to do something about it,” he said.

“The fact is we can’t stand by while people are being hurt. As councillors we have to protect those we represent and people want action.”

Copeland Borough Council has said gulls do cause problems with mess, but said it had not received complaints about attacks.

The authority said the solution lay in not feeding the birds and for property owners to prevent gulls nesting on their buildings.