In Brief

Seagulls the 'size of large dogs' attacking pensioners

Politicians warn of vigilantes roaming the streets as they call for crackdown on bird numbers

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Seagulls the size of "large dogs" have left pensioners in hospital and encouraged armed vigilantes to patrol the streets, MPs claim.

A debate in the House of Commons yesterday heard how seaside towns are facing "gull wars" as the birds start breeding again, says the Daily Mirror.

Conservative Anne-Marie Trevelyan, who represents Berwick-upon-Tweed, said locals "are having to take the law into their own hands to deal with these really difficult and aggressive birds", with some people "wandering the streets of Berwick with firearms".

Meanwhile, Labour MP John Woodcock called for a national seagull summit to tackle the problem as he highlighted a video posted online showing a seagull in his Barrow and Furness constituency "popping into Greggs to help themselves to produce".

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Aberdeen North's SNP MP Kirsty Blackman said the birds were terrorising her constituents. "Look up internet memes on seagulls - the Aberdeen seagull is the size of a large dog. It is absolutely ginormous and it regularly gets mentioned," she said.

Plymouth MP Oliver Colvile said the birds had attacked pensioners, leaving them in need of hospital treatment.

Gulls nesting in one constituent's chimney "used their claws and beaks to attack the top of his head, causing quite a large amount of damage and pain", he said, adding: "As we head into the summer, we could very well see gull wars on our high streets."

Colvile urged the government to do more to bring the numbers of birds under control - but denied he was urging a crackdown solely because his friend had his chips stolen by a seagull when they were out canvassing.

"This is not a vendetta," he said. "It is an opportunity to ensure that shoppers, residents and tourists feel safe when they are outdoors."

The government committed £250,000 to tackle the problem in the 2015 budget, but the money was later cancelled by George Osborne, says the Huffington Post.

Environment minister Therese Coffey said the problem could be reduced with "common sense measures", such as not feeding the birds and using bins with secure lids.

She added there was no plan to change the legal protection afforded to the birds under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, which makes it illegal to kill or injure any seagull or damage its nest.

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