Cornwall

Gull attacks: David Cameron wants 'big conversation'

Seagull
Image caption David Cameron wants a 'big conversation' on gulls following recent attacks on pets

The Prime Minister wants the country to engage in a "big conversation" about gulls following recent attacks.

David Cameron said it was a "dangerous" issue for a prime minister "to dive into" but he wanted action.

Gulls reportedly killed a pet tortoise and a Yorkshire Terrier in two separate attacks in Cornwall in recent weeks.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) said it recognised gulls were a nuisance but warned against any "knee-jerk reactions".

Image copyright Emily Vincent
Image caption Yorkshire terrier Roo was reportedly attacked and killed by birds

Speaking on a visit to Cornwall, Mr Cameron said: "I think a big conversation needs to happen about this and, frankly, I think the people we need to listen to are people who really understand this issue in Cornwall and the potential effect it is having."

It is illegal to injure or kill any species of gull or damage or destroy an active nest or its contents.

Gulls killed Yorkshire terrier Roo in Newquay last week and in May a Chihuahua puppy was killed in Honiton, Devon, according to a local newspaper.

The birds also swooped on tortoise Stig who died two days later from his injuries, according to his owner Jan Byrne, 43, from Liskeard.

Image copyright Jan Byrne
Image caption Jan Byrne is afraid to let surviving tortoise George roam free

A spokesman for the RSPB said the number of herring gulls had declined by more than half over the past 30 years.

He said: "We feel a long-term solution is to try and find a way of encouraging these birds to areas where they nest naturally and where they can be celebrated and not regarded as a nuisance."

The RSPB said any "big conversation" should involve local authorities, the public, the government and conservation groups.

Image caption Prime Minister David Cameron spoke about gulls on a visit to Cornwall

More on this story

Around the BBC

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites