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ALFIE COMBE: Frisky seagulls need anti-mess chemicals

By North Devon Journal  |  Posted: April 27, 2012

  • MESSY: A gull at Ilfracombe Harbour.

  • MENACE: Seagulls are a common sight in Ilfracombe and other coastal towns, and wreak havoc when trying to find a mate.

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HAVE you noticed a pungent smell in the air towards the end of the week?

Perhaps you've remarked upon an unsightly smear on the high street pavements, an errant gathering of soggy lettuce leaves by the cash machine or a collection of empty crisp bags hovering down the road like tumbleweed in the Wild West?

Or maybe, just maybe, you've been unfortunate enough to have a dirty nappy fling off the wheel of your car and adhere itself to the rear passenger side door (something which is both tricky to remove and has the added bonus of making it look like you've been the victim of some sort of dirty protest)?

Well loyal readers, in case you didn't guess, I had the joy of enduring all of these scenarios in the space of a single day last week – and we all know the reason why.

It fills me with dread to say it, but it's that time of year again when sexually stimulated seagulls poke their dirty beaks into our even dirtier rubbish bags in an attempt to prove their worth to potential mates.

In human terms, such a display would be equivalent to red-blooded males looting a recycling centre, throwing a few tyres and bits of wood around, before assaulting the centre manager and returning proudly home with a selection of nick-nacks and ornaments to prevent "her in doors" from getting a cob on.

This curious display of avian arousal may be a source of excitement for these feathered fiends but for us residents it is a well-documented yet seemingly unstoppable pain-in-the-backside.

Clearing up the remains of a big-bird-bin-bag-attack is quite simply one of the most disgusting tasks I have ever had to perform.

You don't know the meaning of the word retch until you have been forced to scoop up the remains of a maggot-infested chicken carcass with your bare hands or sweep up week-old clumps of rice bound together with a vigorous brand of pungent mould.

As well as being an absolute sod to clean, these weekly occurrences also have the added effect of making our delightful seaside resort look like some sort of third world slum with liberal scatterings of debris finding their way into every nook and cranny.

Oxford Grove on bin day is not exactly the picture postcard of curious coastal charm our marketing board would like to portray.

Year after year we moan about the problem and year after year nothing changes; if anything it gets slightly worse as our winged nemeses grow increasingly cunning and cheekier in their attitude.

If things carry on this way the sea gulls will be running the town under vigilante rule within the next 20 years (that said, some of them could probably do a better job than Councillors Grumpy, Sleepy and Angry).

Any out-of-towners reading this might feel I'm laying it on a bit thick but there is no denying the fact that these squawking scavengers are a big problem – not just for us, but for all coastal resorts.

For the first time in my life I actually shouted at a holidaymaker for feeding the wretched birds on the pier last weekend.

I don't know whether it was my sheer hatred for the animals (gulls, not tourists) that drove me to do this, or the fact that the dullard had chosen to perform this act right next to one of the many signs reading Please Don't Feed The Seagulls.

Whatever the reason, something inside me snapped and I just couldn't stop myself from yelling at her like some sort of crazed yokel.

Something needs to be done about these airborne annoyances.

In the past I have floated the idea of a seagull shooting day where, having been coaxed to the pier on the promise of free bread, the birds are shot on mass by gun nuts who pay a charitable fee to take part in the event – everyone's a winner (except the seagulls, of course).

Although the medieval ruthlessness of this idea appeals to me in an "olde worlde weird tradition" kind of way, I am also aware that such a suggestion could come across as the ramblings of someone with a serious mental defect.

So how's this for a compromise: why not feed them a chemical neutering agent to prevent the buggers from reproducing quite so freely and, in the process, lower their testosterone levels which would stop them hacking apart everyone's bin bags?

I'm no chemist but you can't tell me such a chemical doesn't exist.

I'd like to see Ilfracombe Town Council take a lead on this, what do you reckon? E-mail your thoughts to alfiecombe@northdevonjournal.co.uk, or, if you agree with me, contact the town council and ask for the issue to be raised at the next meeting.

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  • BOGOFF2  |  April 27 2012, 2:58PM

    At the risk of sounding patronising and stating the obvious, would it not be a good idea to put bin bags in dustbins or wheelie bins . We had cats and foxes pulling our bin bags all over the lane a few years back , now we and most of our neighbours put our bin bags in bins and guess what ....we no longer have to pick it all up in the morning anymore. By the way, we had to buy our own bins but it has been a worthwhile investment.

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