UK seaside town 'plagued by bloodthirsty ice cream stealing seagulls'

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Seagulls have become a menace for many in Rhyl (Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Seagulls have become a menace for many in Rhyl (Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

A UK seaside resort is at war with aggressive seagulls that stole an ice-cream from a child in a pram and left a woman bloodied.

A £20,000 project to cut down the number of seagulls in Rhyl that had the support of a business group but was opposed by animal rights campaigners, has now been abandoned. And it has left people in the North Wales town divided between those who "really care about seagulls" and others who call them "flying rats".

It comes after Rhyl was named the worst seaside resort in the UK in a report by the Telegraph of “classic” locations around the country. The resort still has a host of attractions and is reportedly undergoing a multi-million-pound makeover.

But in its assessment of Rhyl, the Telegraph said the town was an example of “how not to do things”. It awarded Rhyl a score of just five out of 100 and placed the town at the bottom of its list, a full 93 points below its favourite resort, St Ives in Cornwall.

While Rhyl is not alone with the problem, the aggressive seagulls have not helped the town. One Rhyl resident, who asked not to be named, said there were too many gulls in Rhyl and neighbouring Kinmel Bay in Conwy.

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He told WalesOnline: “They are like flying rats. I saw one swoop down and take an ice cream from a child in a pram. When I lived in Kinmel Bay a woman was making her way to the local doctor’s surgery and her face was covered in blood. One of the seagulls had attacked her. She had a head injury.”

He added: “These creatures create quite a lot of hassle and I can’t understand how people can defend them. I’ve been told they won’t be reducing numbers in Rhyl because so many residents oppose it and the council take notice of that but they are not listening to people like me who don’t like the creatures. It’s about time something was done about them.”

The Rhyl Business Improvement District put forward funds three years ago for a scheme that would have targeted gull eggs before they reached the embryo stage following a spate of attacks on residents and tourists. But the business-led partnership has stepped back from the scheme in the face of opposition from animal rights campaigners and potential negative publicity.

Cllr Brian Jones, who sits on the board of the partnership, explained why the scheme never moved forward. He said: “What you have to realise is there is a lobby of people who really care about seagulls, and they will get pretty upset if you start talking about [reducing the numbers], but there are two sides to the debate.

“There are people who love seagulls. Before Covid the Rhyl Business Improvement District carried out an exercise and came up with a project in which you could control the breeding of seagulls. There are probably somewhere in the region of 500 nesting sites in Rhyl and the immediate area and there was a legal solution, a liquid solution you can paint on eggs when they have only just been laid so you are not killing anything, as the embryo hasn’t formed, and you can control the breeding.

“Five hundred pairs [of gulls] so a thousand chicks times two or three times a year – that’s where your big problem comes from. Where we are now, the breeding season is well under way. The parents are looking for food and swooping or diving in as people are coming out of shops.”

All wild birds, their nests, and their eggs are protected under section one of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. It is an offence to intentionally or recklessly kill, injure, harm, or interfere with nests. Despite the law there are special licences available under the act in which exceptions can be made.

Tim Hanlon

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