Thousands of city dwellers have to live with the noise and mess of urban gull breeding colonies. Often dubbed ‘flying rats’ because they gorge on garbage, gulls are protected by Natural England — a public body sponsored by the government — on the grounds that they are supposedly endangered. Anyone who has to put up with their dawn-shattering racket and profuse defecation can only wonder at the truth of this; and the fact is that it’s based on seriously flawed science.
The wildly held belief (which also appears on the Natural England website) that the UK’s herring gull population has declined by 60 per cent is untrue. Yet their protected status has been enshrined in law to stop councils from dealing with a gull problem that in many of our cities causes distress to residents and damages urban environments.