West Dorset and Weymouth and Portland Councils have launched a campaign to discourage feeding of gulls and other nuisance birds. They cite public health issues and aggressive behaviour, particularly by gulls, adversely affecting the quality of tourist visits. They are asking seafront cafes and other food outlets to display warning signs asking people not to feed these birds and this approach is backed by Facebook and Twitter campaigns. Posters warning residents and visitors not to feed the seagulls are being promoted in the coastal resorts of Weymouth, Portland, West Bay and Lyme Regis.
Previous posts here on www.whgla.org.uk have highlighted the range of public health threats gulls, pigeons, crows and rooks can pose. For example, a colony of yellow-legged seagulls was held responsible for the outbreak of severe food poisoning in Chicago in 2003 caused by gull faeces in reservoir water which led to 300 people being hospitalised.
- Crows and rooks can carry ticks, mites, fleas, lice, parasitic worms,
- fungal spores capable of causing lung diseases,
- almost every variety of human and animal flu (in conditions that can lead to the arising of new dangerous strains!)
- plus a cocktail of entero-bacteria that can cause more or less severe gastric upsets.
- Crows/rooks also have the delightful habits of stuffing rotting food into crevices and water spouts on roofs (potentially causing devastating water damage to buildings),
- they “play with TV leads and aerials (often requiring expensive repairs),
- they tend to “dive-bomb” pedestrians on the pavements below with “poo” during nesting seasons,
- they are loud and aggressive from very early morning till late at night
- and are very effective predators on smaller, more desirable bird species.
- Then there are the gulls!
WHGLA hopes persons who deliberately feed gulls, pigeons, crows and rooks here in Weymouth will eventually realise they are acting in an anti-social manner and may be causing health (and financial) risks to themselves and the businesses they came here to enjoy. Similar #dontfeedthegulls campaigns are underway in Bath, Burnham-on-Sea, Plymouth, several Scottish and Welsh coastal towns and elsewhere.
Just in: In Ocean City, New Jersey, Mayor Jay Gillian has promised anyone feeding gulls will be arrested, fined $500 and may face up to 90 days in jail!