British people tend to support a cull on seagulls to reduce their numbers – and many say they are worse than pigeons

A spate of seagull attacks across the country, including incidents in which a tortoise and two dogs have been killed and another ‘stolen’, led David Cameron to call for a “big conversation” on the issue when prompted on BBC Radio Cornwall. The gulls currently enjoy protected status, meaning it is illegal to injure or kill them, and to damage or destroy their nests, however some are now calling for a cull to be brought to the table.

New YouGov research finds that by a small margin British people tend to support the idea of a gull cull (44% support, 36% oppose), while in rural areas support reaches 50%. Most people aged 60 or over (53%) also support a cull, but 18-24s oppose one by a majority (53%).

There are actually far fewer seagulls than pigeons in Britain (110,000 breeding pairs compared to 550,000 standard pigeons, or ‘rock doves’), and British people have loved to hate pigeons for generations – ‘rats with wings’ is a common insult. However seagulls have a far worse reputation – when asked which are worse 35% say seagulls and only 13% say pigeons.

Pigeons are disliked more in London (18% say they are worse than seagulls), where they have become a pest. The BBC even recently hired hawks at London’s Broadcasting House to create a ‘no fly zone’.

Herring gulls (the kind found on coasts and rubbish tips, commonly referred to as seagulls) have actually suffered a decline in population over the past 25 years, partly due to the decline of the fishing industry. 

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