17th December 2017

TV naturalist wades into seagull row

Seagulls frequently show little fear when there’s a chance of grabbing some food – even if it’s in the hands of a human at the time. Yet, it’s rare for that tendency to be so blatant that it makes it into the media and attracts the attention of a national television naturalist.

When reports emerged that the States of Jersey planned to kill a bird, as some residents had been urging on social media an online petition was raised to save it, and Chris Packham, known for the BBC’s Springwatch, Autumnwatch and Winterwatch, several series of other wildlife programmes, and books intervened. Pointing out that the bird – nicknamed Gulliver – appeared on the RSPB’s “amber” list of species with unfavourable conservation status in Europe, he asked why the States was even considering the move.

A playful seagull

The gull had taken up residence at St Ouen, but its interests were more wide ranging than most seagulls, which are renowned for stealing food in skilful dive-bombing manoeuvres. Gulliver preferred to play, frequently stealing dogs’ tennis balls when their owners threw them and swiping runners’ hats off their heads. It also, unfortunately, had a tendency to play rough, sometimes sinking its talons into walkers’ backs.

After considering how best to protect the public, the States issued a press release explaining that “the gull will be taken to Les Minquiers on the marine resources vessel, as part of a routine fisheries visit to the reef. Having considered a number of options to protect the bird, it is thought the plentiful supply of food, away from humans, at Les Minquiers provides the best chance for the seagull to live in a natural environment.”

The States acknowledged that there was a possibility it could fly back to Jersey but, should it do so, “alternative options to resolve the situation will be explored”.


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