THE SIGHT of a gull eating a dying pigeon in a town centre has provoked a storm on social media and calls by a community leader for a region-wide approach to managing the seabirds.
The herring gull, was seen dragging the injured pigeon out of the road on to the pedestrian crossing opposite the B&M store and the SeaQuarium on East Parade in Rhyl.
The incident was photographed by Mark Challoner, deputy manager of the nearby Apollo Bingo, who shared the image on the 5,000-strong Facebook group, Rhyl Forum.
It led to 304 responses, with differing views on how to deal with the gulls.
Mr Challoner said: “I was just at the top of High Street when it happened, so I can’t be sure the seagull attacked it, but you could see it dragging it on to the footpath and the pigeon was defenceless against it.
“I shared it on social media because I just felt I needed to get things off my chest.
“In the space of that day, I saw three people on different occasions walking down high street and the birds swoop down and took food from people’s hands and in one case a little toddler in a pram.
“I had one swoop down on me and I didn’t even have any food. These are vicious creatures now.”
Rhyl town councillor Tony Thomas, who is also Denbighshire County Council’s lead member for housing, regulation and the environment, said: “On behalf of the [county] council, I have written to Welsh Government about seagulls in respect of what can be done across North Wales and we are awaiting a response.
“I am currently pushing through a bylaw for the public not to feed the seagulls, but this will take 12 months.”
Cllr Thomas added: “Seagulls are a protected species but as we all know, their desire for a food source is insatiable.
“I live by Splash Point in Rhyl and as soon as a car pulls up on the front the seagulls are there waiting for any leftovers which are often tossed out to them.
“Culling would prove fruitless and any action to sort out the situation would be expensive and only temporary.
“Realistically there is no easy answer, but public education can reduce the problems.”
Some Rhyl Forum users said this was a typical sight in the town as the herring gull is known to eat other birds and carrion as part of its normal diet and they called for strong action to deal with the birds.
Martin Barker wrote: “By the Blue Bridge, we see the seagulls nudge the pigeons into the water then dive down and drag them to the shore to eat.”
Lynda Fisher posted: “They are disgusting dangerous vermin and one actually killed and ate a bird on the roof opposite my house last week.
“We are over-run with them and culling is overdue. At least prick the eggs.
However, the majority of the comments have rallied to the defence of the seagulls.
Sandra Bassett wrote: “It’s eating to stay alive; it might not be pleasant to watch, but it’s nature.
“Would you be so offended by a lion eating a deer? People have made them the way they are.
“We over fish from the seas and dump our rubbish and overflowing bins all over the land and then get annoyed about birds that have every right to be there.
Allyson Jones agreed: “It’s a seaside town. You’re going to get seagulls, they are struggling to eat so attack people with food.
“They were here before people. Animals eat animals. That’s how the world works.”
Joseph Coleman wrote: “Who would clean up that pigeon otherwise? Environmental health would probably take weeks to sort it and RSPCA won’t touch it. The seagull is actually helping clear up the mess.”
Responding to the feedback, Mr Challoner said: “I’m surprised there is more in favour of the seagull than against it, but personally I feel there has to be something done in the town to try and control things.
“I have been to many other seaside towns and there is visibly more gulls around here in Rhyl and they are more vicious.
“I agree its their environment and they have a right here as much as us, but I don’t remember it being this bad a few years back.
“Do we see this in Colwyn Bay, Llandudno or Blackpool? No, not half as bad”
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