Primary schoolgirl in heart rending plea to Moray Council

Ten-year-old ‘afraid to leave home’ after Seagull attack

A PRIMARY SCHOOL pupil has appealed for help from Moray Council after being left scared to leave her own home for fear of being attacked by nesting Seagulls.

Ten-year-old St Sylvester’s Primary school pupil Katie Gilmour sent a personal plea to council officials after being attacked near her North Covesea Terrace home in Lossiemouth.

In her letter Katie said: “I am writing to ask you what you can do about Seagulls attacking people. On Friday 18th I got attacked by a Seagull on North Covesea Terrace, I am now scared to go outside.

“I’m wondering if you can do anything about them. I don’t care if they’re endangered I just want them gone/stop attacking me.”

Katie’s mum Rose sent the letter attached to an email to Moray Council this week – however, the reply she received, while sympathetic, gave no hope whatsoever of the local authority taking any kind of action to protect her daughter from the annual dive-bombing by anxious gulls looking after their young.

A council official told Rose: “I appreciate it can be scary for young children and empathise with your daughter and her fears.

“Unfortunately there is still nothing the Council can do with regards to the seagull situation as we do not hold the relevant licence. There are companies that do hold the licence which I believe were sent to you in previous emails.”

Katie's plea to Moray Council
Katie’s plea to Moray Council

While Seagulls are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 that does allow for the destruction of birds under certain circumstances – in particular where it can be demonstrated they pose a threat to public safety or health.

Seagull attacks throughout the UK were reported by the RSPB to have reached their highest numbers in over ten years – however, in Moray the local authority decided not to take any action other than a poster campaign after complaints made to them last year were reported to have fallen.

However, that came in a year when a local campaign launched by Elgin man Clarky Mitchell drew widespread support from throughout Moray calling for the local authority to take some action against the annual threat from Seagulls.

While a Moray Council spokesman insisted that they were restricted in what they could do to affect the behavioural patterns of the birds, a spokesman for Scottish Natural Heritage said that while the birds are protected by the 1981 Act it did not mean that there was nothing that could be done.

He said: “We understand that breeding gulls can cause problems for people when they nest on or near buildings. All breeding birds are protected by law – but that does not mean that there is nothing that can be done if problems arise.

“There are two types of licences available – general or individual – depending on the species of gull and the purpose of the actions you want to take.”