Concerns raised over netting on South Shields buildings after gull rescued from roof of bank by firefighters

Concerns have been raised around the dangers posed to birds by protective netting on buildings after a herring gull was rescued by firefighters from the rook of a bank

Wednesday, 19th May 2021, 4:45 am

Two crews were dispatched from South Shields Community Fire Station and Marley Park Community Fire Station in Sunderland to free the trapped bird at the side of the bank‘s premises.

Fire crews arrived at 7.53pm, May 11, and left the scene at around 9pm, having removed the gull – which was put into the care of a animal shelter and charity Pawz for Thought.

The animal was “badly scuffed” as a result of the incident, the centre said, and may not regain proper wing function.

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Bird netting on Barclays Bank roof, King Street.

South Tyneside environmental campaigner Rachael Milne, contacted the fire brigade and the RSCPA when she was made aware of the bird’s plight.

"I got a call on the bus letting me know that the bird had become trapped and that no one had done anything about it,” she said.

"So I went down and could see it was all tangled up in the net and was trying to fly away. Its wings were all bent and put out of position.

"When I was standing there, I could see the holes in the netting. That must’ve been where the bird got caught in the first place, by trying to get through the netting.”

A herring gull in flight

Anna Malia, from South Shields, who is part of a campaign to prevent cruelty towards seagulls and other birds in the town, was also present at the gull rescue.

“This is businesses who aren’t deliberately hurting the animals,” she said. “There are better solutions to netting out there.”

A spokesperson for Barclays said: "We were not aware of this incident when, we understand, it took place earlier this week.

"However, we take animal welfare seriously. We will conduct an inspection and remedy any issues we might find."

Still of video footage showing the injured herring gull, trapped on the roof of the Keppel Street Barclays branch.

The spokesperson added that the South Shields branch was not aware of any incidents regarding animal welfare and the netting at its premises in the past.

Netting is often used to protect buildings like the King Street Barclays branch, which is a listed property, to stop gulls and other birds from nesting.

Herring gull numbers have declined dramatically in the UK since the 1970s, with the opinion-dividing birds considered noisy and aggressive by some.

Lynne Ebbdale, from the Pawz for Thought, said of the trapped bird’s plight: “I’m not sure this is going to be a good outcome.

"Because it’s been struggling in netting, one of its wings is still seriously injured. They’ve got to be able to fly well, or else it’s not fair releasing them.

"It’s terrible when this happens – and, on top of this, we’ve had two shot birds in from Sunderland. But businesses really have to do more to maintain their netting because we see all sorts getting caught in them.

"Gulls are only really a problem when they’re nesting. And the thing is they only nest for a very short period in the summer months.”

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