A SEAGULL ‘epidemic’ in Moray has prompted an Elgin man to demand action from the local authority, and he has the online backing of hundreds of members of the public.
Clarky Mitchell wrote on Moray Council’s Facebook page last weekend, after his 16-month-old baby was targeted by a gull while his family enjoyed lunch outside at the Plainstones on Elgin High Street.
In just five days, his message had been ‘liked’ by more than 1,200 people while almost 300 postings – many highlighting similar incidents from across Moray – had been written in support.
Mr Mitchell, who lives in Kingsmills, has now met with council representatives and said he will continue to fight until action is taken.
However, the local authority has said that because gulls are protected by law, it is constrained in terms of what it can do.
In his Facebook posting to the council, Mr Mitchell wrote: "Can you please explain when the long overdue seagull problem is going to be addressed?
"In case you are the only ones not to notice we have an epidemic which is completely ruining leisure time in the park for families and on the High Street where you can’t even have a small bite to eat without coming under a full-scale attack.
"Our 16-month-old baby was attempting to eat a sandwich in her pram when one of these vermin of the skies persistently tried to grab it from her in an aggressive manner time and time again.
"The damage that huge beaks could do to a child, especially if they have food in their mouths, is unimaginable. An eye could easily be lost . . . it’s disgusting."
Mr Mitchell and his family headed to Cooper Park in Elgin after the incident on High Street, and immediately witnessed a gull snatch a bag of sandwiches from a mother and her children who were about to enjoy a picnic in the sunshine.
That was when the 39-year-old knew he had to do something.
"Visibly upset, you could easily see a simple family picnic was ruined by the seagull vermin problem which is driving the whole town insane," he told the council.
"If it were rats or the likes it would no doubt be swiftly dealt with. This is no different. These creatures need culling and population control imposed asap."
Speaking to ‘The Northern Scot’ this week, Mr Mitchell admitted that he had been overwhelmed by the public response to his online tirade.
And while his own personal issues have been in Elgin, he said that many people have contacted him from other coastal areas of Moray.
One woman in Buckie said her sister was attacked in a cemetery while trying to put flowers on her dad’s grave, while residents of Burghead and Lossiemouth have complained of swooping birds.
Other complaints, Mr Mitchell said, have included noise; physical attacks on children, old people and pets; and kids being too afraid to go out into their gardens.
He also said he was concerned that the gulls are eating duck eggs and ducklings, which is having a knock-on effect to the duck population.
For more on this story, see this week's 'Northern Scot'