Hands off gull chicks

PUBLISHED: 13:43 11 June 2009 | UPDATED: 11:09 10 June 2010

BUDLEIGH Salterton police are warning people against removing seagull chicks from their nest in attempt to cull the nuisance birds. The message comes after the police received an anonymous tip-off, claiming four homes in the Fore Street area had illegal

BUDLEIGH Salterton police are warning people against removing seagull chicks from their nest in attempt to cull the 'nuisance' birds.

The message comes after the police received an anonymous tip-off, claiming four homes in the Fore Street area had illegally removed chicks in a bid to reduce numbers.

Bird lovers feared the chicks were being taken from their nests because some believe they are vermin.

Police said further investigations revealed chicks had legally been removed from nests at three homes by a licensed company.

Budleigh Salterton police community support officer Malcolm Maguire said residents from three homes had legitimate reasons for removing the birds - which included homeowners being attacked by adult gulls that were protecting their young.

PCSO Maguire said the birds had been 'humanely' removed by the pest control company

He said investigations were continuing over the removal of chicks from a fourth property.

The officer said anyone without a licence found removing seagulls would be breaking the law - and could be prosecuted - because the birds are protected during nesting season.

PCSO Maguire said: "The advice would be that, if you have problems with seagulls, contact an approved contractor and enlist their help.

"There are legitimate reasons, such as health and safety issues, when chicks can be removed.

"A number of residents told me chicks were being taken and we had an anonymous letter at the police station.

"We want to reassure bird lovers that there isn't anybody going around dressed in black, climbing roofs that don't belong to them, to take the birds."

The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 states that it is an offence, intentionally or recklessly, to take, damage, destroy or interfere with the nest of any wild bird while it is in use or being built. Anyone found to have breached this law could incur a fine of up to £5,000.

l What do readers think about seagulls? Are they a menace or part of the seaside? Go to www.exmouthjournal and click on forums to register your opinion - or write a reader's letter.

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