Last year, in the middle of Mayfair, I was attacked by two seagulls as I happened to be walking to the office. It was an experience I could hardly expect although luckily, after my initial shock, I seemed to have escaped without injury. But elsewhere, in Cornwall in particular, there has been a rise in patients being treated for injuries after attacks by dive-bombing seagulls.
Aggressive gulls on Britain’s coastlines are no longer content to steal left-over chips, experts say and pharmacists in Cornwall have reported seeing at least one patient a week who has been left bloodied or cut as a result. Many more are likely to have treated their wounds at home. In some cases, young children have been left with cuts to their faces after birds attempted to steal food out of the mouths, the pharmacists said, whilst experts say that emboldened gulls have stepped up their attacks. The NHS Karnow Clinical Commissioning Group said some cases have left children and pensioners in hospital.
Earlier this year, MPs warned that many coastal towns were being terrorised by the birds, which appear to have become more aggressive – leaving some calling for a cull. Gull experts said the birds have worked out that they can get more food dive-bombing people than by scrabbling for scraps. Claire Field, a community pharmacist at Carbis Bay, close to St Ives, said: ‘We have seen adults and young children with cuts around and inside their mouths as well as their hands where sneaky seagulls have swooped down to take their food… As a minimum, any cuts should be cleaned with antiseptic,’ she concluded.
Despite my own experience, which left me unhurt, the mere swooping down by gulls gave me a moment of panic. Gull’s eggs in season are a must sought after delicacy, which to me makes up for my moment of panic. All I can say, a cull of the birds would be a step too far.