Editorial: Annual turf war is getting bloody – and we’re losing

Herring Gull - cute, or evil mugger?
Herring Gull – cute, or evil mugger?

The weekly opinion of the Editor of topical events in Moray

IT HAS BECOME an annual event for every community within ten miles of the Moray coast – and not by any means an enjoyable one.

Looking back in previous insideMoray editorials it is also one of increasing concern, as instances of the loutish behaviour of one group of residents is increasing year on year – and still, it seems, nothing is done about it.

No, not vandals, not drunken youths nor even so-called “civilised” adults allowing their dogs to mess up our environment. No, it’s Seagull Season again.

Now I share the love of our environment and its fantastic wildlife along with the majority of our population – I with them I recognise the need to live side by side, doing all we can to protect our native birds (our own Lossiemouth garden is regarded as a central café as we go through several 5k bags of bird seed each week).

I can see also that it is human lifestyle that has encouraged Seagulls to move away from what was their traditional breeding grounds – hey, I can see as well that we have “moved in” on their territory without as much as a by your leave.

But when Gulls are launching fearsome physical attacks on us, then it is past time to just accept the situation.

It is past time for our elected representatives to bemoan that it is, after all, our own fault “for feeding them” – doing little more than post warnings to that effect while washing their hands of responsibility for the issue.

A few years back postal workers who for years have fought off attacks from vicious dogs decided to ban deliveries to an entire Elgin Street because of dive-bombing gulls. Then this week we read of a lady in Buckie who ended up requiring medical treatment after a gull attacked her face.

Meanwhile what is being done about the issue?

We were promised years ago that a major investigation into what could be done about the issue was to be undertaken – only to now be told that central government funding for that was not forthcoming as it was deemed as a “low priority”.

When told about the latest attack a local councillor in Buckie described it as a “natural hazard, we simply have to deal with it day to day” – before reminding us, again, that we should not feed gulls.

It’s too late to sweep this one aside in such a blasé manner. It’s long past the stage where simply not feeding birds would have any effect (how exactly do you feed garden birds without Gulls swooping in by the way – put notices up?).

It is a problem that needs action – that needs investment, be that simply through better rubbish control through ‘caged’ public waste bins, or through far greater and, sadly, destructive action against the Gulls themselves.

A start would be a public campaign – put simply, just complain. Seriously – Moray Council decided back in November that a poster campaign would be all they needed to do to address the issue because the number of complaints they had received had gone down.

That, they said, would be reviewed at the end of the 2015 breeding season. We can be sure of this, unless we, the public, make complaints to the Council’s environmental health manager  then our elected representatives will do nothing again this year.