Cameron's hot air on seagulls

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It’s a problem that’s been going on for at least a century. Seagulls, seagulls and more seagulls in towns. In some places, such as St Ives, Cornwall, the local seagulls seem to have evolved to be particularly skilfull at nicking sandwiches out of “emmets'” tourists’ hands just as they leave the baker’s shop. They swoop from, apparently nowhere, and snatch food. Icecreams are a seagull speciality. The gulls know where the icecream shops are, they know which roofs to sit on, poised. They know exactly when to swoop to grab some poor unsuspecting child’s icecream. (And it is quite a frightening experience for the child and its parents).

The problem is that seagulls are a protected species. They tend to be reasonably protected from predators. Many attempts have been made to curb them in towns, but the problem rumbles on, year after year.

This year we’ve seen some highly publicised incidents of a tortoise, a terrier and a puppy being attacked by seagulls (as Patrick Barkham writes in the Guardian in a very sensible article).

As a result, BBC Radio Cornwall managed to corner David Cameron and ask him what he was going to do about it.

I feel sorry for Cameron. The history of government intervention in animal-related issues is not an illustrious one. He said he wanted a “big conversation” about seagulls.

A “big conversation”.

Well conversation is about all you are going to get from this government on the subject of seagulls.

In March, the coalition government set aside £250,000 for a study into urban scavenging seagulls. This was welcomed by Don Foster, who has long campaigned on the issue.

Surprise, surprise, without those pesky Liberal Democrats to keep an eye on them, the new Conservative government has cancelled the study.

So now all we have left is hot air. And a lot of swooping seagulls in towns.