Drones considered for Whitehaven gull problem

Image caption A licence would be required for drones to be used to destroy eggs laid by the gulls, which have protected species status

Aggressive gulls that have snatched ice cream from children could be culled using drones, a councillor has suggested.

A Whitehaven boy was "traumatised" when a "seagull swooped down, took the ice cream out of his hand and off it went", town councillor Graham Roberts said.

The drones could be used to spray nests with a chemical to stop eggs hatching.

But, Copeland Borough Council their use was not one being considered.

Mr Roberts said the gulls could deter tourists going to the harbour town, leading to a downturn for its hospitality businesses.

"Anybody with any food near their face could have their nose or eye pecked," he said

"People don't want to be in fear of being attacked by seagulls."

Image caption Graham Roberts said injuries caused by the seagulls "could be very serious"

Spraying gull eggs by hand risks attack from the birds and both methods require a licence because seagulls are otherwise a protected species.

Mr Roberts intends to raise the use of drones at a meeting of the town council on 27 August, when the problem will be discussed.

"It's frightening. We've got to do something about it," he said.

"The fact is we can't stand by while people are being hurt. As councillors we have to protect those we represent and people want action."

The borough council said the seagulls did cause problems with mess but it had not received complaints about attacks.

Instead of using drones, it said the solution lay in not feeding the birds and for property owners to prevent gulls nesting on their buildings.

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