York & North Yorkshire

Scarborough Council 'gull-mugging' statistics revealed

Seagull in Whitby Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption Mugged off: Reports of 22 gull attacks were submitted from March to the end of August, including two in Whitby (pictured)

So-called "gull-muggings" have claimed 22 victims in the seaside towns of North Yorkshire over the last six months, new figures have revealed.

Reports of 19 incidents of birds physically attacking people or taking food were submitted from March to the end of August in Scarborough.

Further avian assaults were reported in Whitby and in Filey.

Scarborough Borough Council has started to record "gull-mugging" incidents to "assess the size of the problem".

The figures are contained in a report due to go before councillors in the town next week.

Attacks By Seagulls

Between March and August 2016


reported gull "muggings" have been made to Scarborough Borough Council


of the incidents occured in July

  • 13 people reported that their food was stolen by the seagull

  • 9 people reported to the council that they had been "directly attacked" by a seagull


An action plan for "minimising the public nuisance of local gull populations" was approved in November, with measures including a poster campaign and handing out 'gull proof' sacks which protect the plastic refuse bags inside.

Seafront buildings were also "gull-proofed" with the installation of netting.

Issuing fines for people spotted feeding gulls was considered, but the council later ruled the "counter-productive" option out.

Image copyright Scarborough Borough Council
Image caption Scarborough Borough Council produced a poster campaign aiming to prevent seagulls being fed

The council intends to continue collecting the data, submitted via an online form, for a further 12 months and to compare their research with other seaside local authorities.

Both herring gulls and kittiwakes are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act but the council said it was inshore-feeding herring gulls which presented the biggest nuisance.

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