UK police launch probe into seagull on leash

Man arrested for pulling the live bird along the pavement with a rope around its neck in northwest England

By AFP

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Gulls are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and it is illegal to intentionally injure or kill them. — Photo courtesy BBC
Gulls are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and it is illegal to intentionally injure or kill them. — Photo courtesy BBC

Published: Fri 14 Apr 2023, 4:24 PM

Last updated: Fri 14 Apr 2023, 4:25 PM

They have been demonised as "psychos" and "feathered scumbags", swooping from the skies to steal British holidaymakers' much-loved fish and chips.

But residents in the seaside resort of Blackpool were surprised this week to see one of the winged marauders grounded — and crossing a road on a dog lead.

Police in the town in northwest England said they were called on Monday "to a report of a man pulling a live seagull along the pavement with a rope around its neck".

Officers arrested a man in his 50s for being drunk and disorderly.

"The bird was taken by a member of the public to a local vet where they decided it sadly had to be put down," police said.

The man was released but "the matter is still being investigated", a spokesman said.

Footage of the man in black trainers and jogging bottoms, walking over a pedestrian crossing with the tethered gull, has circulated on social media, prompting condemnation from animal welfare groups.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) said it was "totally inappropriate and unacceptable to treat any wild animal in this way.

Putting a gull on a leash would prevent the bird "from being able to engage in its natural behaviour and could lead to injury or even death," it added.

It is illegal in Britain to intentionally injure or kill gulls, which are a protected species.

The Daily Star tabloid has featured regular reports about increasing numbers of attacks by seagulls, particularly in seaside resorts where fast-food is plentiful.

In a front-page report last month headlined "Feathered scumbags are at it again!", the newspaper said: "They go mad for our chips, ice creams and battered sausages".


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