Warning after reports of seagulls being shot in South Shields
Council and wildlife officers have warned against the illegal killing of seagulls after reports of birds being shot in South Shields.
It comes after residents raised concerns that a number of seagulls are believed to have been shot by air rifles in the town.
People have reported hearing a ‘popping’ sound, with dead birds later being discovered in Baring Street, Coston Drive, Boldon Lane and Bamburgh Avenue among other areas.
Last month, one resident rescued a gull with an injured wing from Tyne Dock Metro station, but sadly it had to be put down.
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The resident, who did not wish to be named, also claims an injured gull hit their roof and landed in their garden in Lemon Street last week, they said: “It was a terrible thing to see.
"If a parent is shot then the chick will starve to death. The numbers of herring gulls are plummeting and this whole thing is desperately sad. We must come together as a seaside community to protect this iconic bird.”
Anna Malia, of the North East Animal Rights group, says she has been made aware of a number of incidents in South Shields.
She commented: “I have been contacted by a number of residents who are very concerned about shooting incidents in their streets.
“Seagulls are always controversial but we live in a seaside town – we’ve got the beautiful coastline and the wildlife is one of the things that comes with it.”
Herring gulls (seagulls) are a red-listed protected species and it is an offence to injure or kill them without a special culling licence.
An RSPCA spokesperson said: "The RSPCA is here for all animals and injuring or killing these birds is an offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act.
“Every year the RSPCA receives almost 1,000 calls to investigate cases like this and help hundreds of animals that are victims of air gun attacks.
“Cats and wildlife are normally the animals that are more susceptible to these incidents simply because they are out in the open with no one to protect them.
“The injuries caused by such attacks are horrific and often fatal.
"The RSPCA is calling for tighter controls on air weapons. This, along with better education and explanation of the law when buying an air gun, and requirements that everyone must receive basic safety training before being allowed to walk out of the shop, could help relieve the problem.”
South Tyneside Council urged anyone with information on these incidents to contact the police.
A spokesperson said: “We are aware of the reports of a seagull being shot.
“Herring gulls are a red-listed protected species and under current legislation it is an offence to kill or injure them, without a special licence from Natural England.
“The council does not permit any activity of this kind and will always work closely with the police to share intelligence on such matters.
“Anyone who has any information is urged to contact the police.”
Anyone concerned about the welfare of an animal can also contact the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999.