DAVID Cameron has said he wants to start a “big conversation” about a recent spate of seagull attacks on local people and pets in Cornwall in the UK.
The prime minister said he wanted to take action after learning about an increase in attacks from the aggressive birds.
It emerged earlier this week that seagulls had attacked and killed a dog, leaving a sight “like a murder scene”. A tortoise was also attacked, while people in St Ives are having their takeaway food stolen by aggressive birds.
The commitment comes despite his own government axing a £250 000 (R4.8-million) fund for research into aggressive urban gulls because it was a “low priority”.
The prime minister told BBC Radio Cornwall yesterday morning that the issue came up at a dinner with Cornwall’s six Conservative MPs on Thursday night. One of the problems is that seagulls are protected and so a cull is not possible.
He said: “I think this is a very difficult subject . . . with the issues of the protection of seagulls, whether there is a need for a cull, what should be done about eggs and nests and the rest of it.
“I think a big conversation needs to happen about this and frankly the people we need to listen to are people who really understand this issue in Cornwall, and the potential effects it is having.”
Cameron is midway through a visit to Cornwall, and went for his traditional morning run followed by a “wild swim” off the Cornish coast yesterday morning.
At least three dogs have been killed in Cornwall by seagulls so far this year.
Emily Vincent, 36, said her Yorkshire terrier Roo was swooped on in her garden in Newquay, Cornwall.
She said the attack was witnessed by her toddler and she now fears the birds, which have nested on her roof, may attack one of her children.
This follows reports of two dogs being killed by seagulls in the past three months in the region.
Seagulls also killed a pet tortoise in Liskeard. Jan Byrne, 43, the pet’s owner, said the birds swooped on tortoise Stig, turned him over and began pecking at him.