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The persecution of an iconic British species

If you ask the person next to you the one thing they associate herring gulls with, what do you think it would be? They will most likely respond by saying that they are pests, dangerous or noisy and cause chaos in public spaces. Many will say “they belong at sea, why don’t they go back to where they came from!?”.

The truth is that herring gulls dominate our seafronts and rooftops because we have vastly reduced their food supply. Unsustainable fishing practices have left wild fish stocks decimated. In response, the herring gulls are moving inland to take the opportunity of food resources by feeding on our litter, raiding our bins and even stealing food straight from people’s plates. But while you find yourself feeling angry about the gull living on your roof, please take a moment to consider what you would do if your main food supply was taken away from you. Would you move to somewhere where you could access food and shelter easily, or suffer starvation?

Herring gulls suffer persecution from those who should love them most, and desperately need our support, not our hate. It is important to understand that we have made it difficult for them to survive, so they have done what any species would do when under pressure, they have adapted. So please, next time you see a herring gull, offer it support by leaving it be.

Gulls will attack when they feel their young are threatened so keep your distance. Gulls will scavenge to reduce the energetic cost of fishing, so ensure any litter or waste is disposed of responsibly and securely, and boycott unsustainable fishing practices. Do not hose vulnerable chicks off rooftops and finally, please do not speed up your car when you see one resting in the road!

At the end of the day, herring gulls are a protected species and when you take the time to slow down and observe their behaviour, you will soon see that they can be gentle and maternal birds that are a joy to watch.

Please share our post so that it can be read by many, especially those who have a negative attitude toward herring gulls. We want everyone to know that they mean no harm and like the rest of us, are simply trying to survive.

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