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Home Canterbury News Article
Fire crews dispatched a cherry picker and closed off a Herne Bay road last night - to rescue a stricken seagull.
The bird had become impaled on a TV aerial and was dangling by its wing, sparking the emergency operation.
But critics have branded the rescue effort a "waste of public money".
Nicola Roper, 39, called the RSPCA to her home in Cobblers Bridge Road after her husband spotted the injured bird on their roof at 3.30pm.
But the animal charity's officers could not reach the gull so called fire crews to help.
Despite being rescued in a net, the animal was so badly injured it had to be put down.
Nicola said: "My husband arrived home at about 3.30pm and saw the bird dangling from the aerial.
"It was to my amazement that there were two emergency vehicles sent there. It's a waste of public money. There needs to be better guidelines about when you can call the fire brigade..." - resident Lee Harman
"We called the RSPCA, who sent an officer, but he had to call the fire brigade. At 6pm the fire crews arrived.
"I think it was difficult because you couldn't just leave the gull up there hanging as it was going to die.
"It needed to be rescued. If a member of the public tried to get up there and then fell that would have been awful."
But Greenhill Gardens resident Lee Harman believes it was a bit too much.
"I don't like to see any animal in pain," he said. "But whenever I visit my mother in Herne, seagulls are the blight of our lives. Residents up there in Mill Lane and Upper Free Down are attacked by gulls.
"When a nest of young birds fell onto the roof we tried to call the RSPCA and fire brigade to move the nest but were told to call a private contractor.
"We were told not to call the fire brigade to reach the nest, because it would be a waste of their time.
"So it was to my amazement that there were two emergency vehicles sent there. It's a waste of public money.
"There needs to be better guidelines about when you can call the fire brigade."
Herne Bay fire station manager Gary Stanford said the use of emergency vehicles for animal rescues is rare.
He said: "The rescue of animals does present a number of hazards which do require specialist equipment and highly-trained staff.
"If KFRS didn't attend then there is the potential that members of the public could be injured while attempting to rescue the animal themselves."
An RSPB spokesman said: "We would only attend if requested by the RSPCA, where there is clearly distress to the animal or pet owner and the release of the animal requires specialist equipment.
"Working alongside the Kent Fire and Rescue team in their cherry picker our officer was lifted 35ft in the air to free the injured bird.
"Unfortunately the wound and break to the gull's wing were so severe a vet advised the bird should be put to sleep.
"We appreciate the concern shown by residents for the gull's safety and would like to thank the member of the public who called to alert us he was in distress."
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