Urban Myth: “a modern story of obscure origin and with little or no supporting evidence that spreads spontaneously in varying forms and often has elements of horror”
There was an avalanche of comments across social media in response to my post about the fines being handed out to people feeding urban birds.
Most of those who responded are wholly against any penalties for this apparently innocent pastime and many are absolutely adamant that they will continue to feed our feathered friends - even it it brings them into conflict with the authorities...or nosy neighbours.
Of those who supported the fines, the most often voiced complaint was that of vicious 'dive bombing' gulls. These horror stories of gulls attacking people are very prominent whenever there is any debate over 'controlling' or 'managing' urban wildlife, with many urging for a cull to put an end to the perceived problem.
Vicious Seagulls = Fake News?
But are these horror stories just that? Made up stories? Myths?
We've all seen the hysterical headlines along the lines of "seagull nearly killed my Nan" and "left for dead by violent gang of gulls" but are dive-bombing gulls a real problem or just an urban myth?
Having spent a great deal of time by the sea, I can honestly say that I've never ever encountered a malicious seagull. Sure, if you hold a chip in the air, especially during the gull's nesting season, then you may be lucky enough (or unlucky enough - depending on your outlook) to have a close encounter with one of these magnificent birds, but I have my doubts as to whether such encounters are commonplace – and whether they are in fact really 'horrific' and 'vicious' or just surprising and delightful.
I take all these newspaper reports with a large pinch of salt, much as I do with my chips at the seaside. Sensational headlines claiming that gulls are attacking people purposefully and violently are probably mostly nonsense.
A British Problem?
And is this a purely British invention? What of overseas gulls? Do Dutch gulls attack people too? Or those in Canada? Apparently they are all well mannered.... hmm, something fishy there then.
There may of course have been occasions when a gull, in defence of its nesting territory, has warned off what it sees as a potential threat– but that's natural and something we must respect. Many species of gull are in rapid decline as we have over-fished their territory out at sea and deprived them of their food source.
First Hand Accounts Welcome...
So, if anyone can provide first hand accounts of being attacked by vicious birds then I'd be very open to hearing from you.
Meanwhile I remain skeptical and might even go as far as to suggest that dive bombing sea gulls really are an urban myth, invented - or at least exaggerated - in order to provide an excuse to label them as 'pests' and eradicate them.
Sign My Petition
I've set up a petition to encourage local councils to establish bird feeding areas in towns and cities. This will enable those of us who love to feed birds the opportunity to do so without being slapped with a fine. It will also allow those odd people who have an aversion to winged creatures the option to avoid the area. Licensed seed sellers could provide suitable food and everyone will be happy.
Please take a moment to sign the petition and let's see if we can put an and end to this ridiculous culture of persecuting birds – and the good folks who feed them.
PLEASE SIGN THE PETITION BY CLICKING HERE, THANK YOU.
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