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Derek Budd who has worked with Bill Oddie calls for seagull numbers to be curbed

A TV cameraman who worked with Bill Oddie told how the coast's soaring numbers of noisy and fierce seagulls needs to be curbed.

Derek Budd, 73, added “serious discussions” were needed by the relevant authorities to help "manage numbers" as their population booms in Folkestone and Hythe.

The ex-ITV cameraman who lives in Hythe also warned people of the dangers of feeding the animals.

Derek Budd
Derek Budd

He said: “Late this morning, I spotted a family with a small child in a pushchair, feeding the gulls on the canal bank at Stade Street, there were hundreds being fed, even flying off with their plastic bag, sadly the couple thought that funny.

“This perhaps innocent gesture causes wild birds to accept human waste, learning also to attack people.

“Such feeding also encourages gulls away from their natural habitats, creating public nuisance, litter, as well as rooftop nesting in areas that are totally unsuitable for society.”

Mr Budd, who shot award winning documentary Country Ways, added thousands of wild birds are dying in the heat wave because of human behaviour.

“As a former wildlife cameraman, I have witnessed gull activity around the world. Even filming a huge flock of gulls on the Kent marshes, that by their rings, identified them as coming from Chernobyl, Russia, after the devastation in 1986.

Warning - do not feed the gulls
Warning - do not feed the gulls

“Sadly so many people are totally unaware of the numerous serious diseases that are spread by such bird activity.

“Children can easily catch eye infections, stomach bugs, some life threatening,” he added.

The opportunistic birds scavenge on open rubbish tips, from where poisonous toxins and disease could be passed to humans, he explained.

And encouraging them with food teaches the birds to rip open bins, bombard people and settle away from their natural habitat – cliffs for example.

He explained other species of wild bird are driven out of the area as gulls have few natural predators.

“What people don’t realise with these birds is a form of number management would be beneficial to nature, and I think we are getting to the stage where a discussion needs to be had at the right level,” he continued.

The European Union Birds Directive currently protects all 500 wild species found in Europe.

Photographer Derek Budd
Photographer Derek Budd

But some councils besieged with the birds use a range of measures including removing nests and eggs to keep numbers down.

Cutting off seagulls ’food source is the most effective way to deal with the soaring population, according to the district council.

A Folkestone and Hythe District Council spokesman said: “Gulls are capable of catching fish and are expert scavengers but people make it so much easier for them to get a meal with very little effort.

“High on the menu are the bin bags left out on the streets which can be easily ripped open and the food taken. The result is one satisfied gull but a huge mess on our streets. If you have to use bags for your household rubbish, keep them in until collection day. Next on the menu is food litter and this stems from our desire to eat outside or when on the move. Fish and chips left under benches and discarded half-empty takeaway containers are easy pickings.”

If people stopped feeding them, the gulls would stop looking on people as a source of food, she added.

Published on its website, the council has outlined a series of tips to help people future-proof their homes against intruding gulls. Spikes and wires can stop birds landing or building nests, however, the work should be avoided in the March - August breeding season, when gulls become more aggressive.

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