Published: 06:00, 22 September 2020
| Updated: 18:03, 22 September 2020
A head teacher says his school is being held hostage by a renegade seagull which attacks children and has left members of staff with facial injuries.
Paul McCarthy, who runs Minster Church of England Primary School, in Minster admits they feel helpless, with the only advice they've been given to carry umbrellas to ward off attacks.
The problem is also affecting residents living in Minster village, with children using the recreation ground, play area and all-weather pitch being dive-bombed.
Mr McCarthy said: "The bird has been terrorising residents over the whole of the summer holiday period with many attacks.
"(At the school) we have had an ongoing problem since the start of the academic year.
"The renegade seagull has attacked and injured children and three members of staff on the all-weather pitch, the rec and also within the school grounds.
"One child was repeatedly pecked on their head and two members of staff have facial injuries from the bird's feet scratching at their faces."
Mr McCarthy says all attacks have been unprovoked.
"It will literally dive-bomb people, appearing from nowhere making it very hard to prevent it happening," he said.
"The RSPCA informed us that we should carry umbrellas, which for a school wasn't a very practical piece of advice.
"As yet we have hit a dead end in getting any support for this."
Mr McCarthy says due to Covid-19 it is imperative that children can space out and distance at playtimes and lunchtimes.
"If this wasn't tricky enough to manage with 400 pupils, I have then had this seagull putting a massive spanner in the works limiting the areas that we can play with relative safety," he said.
"It seems crazy that a seagull is effectively holding the school hostage and that we can do nothing about it."
It it understood the seagull is a juvenile and had been hand-reared in the village, but is no longer being fed, causing it to become aggressive.
Wendy Vinson, who also works at the school, is urging people to report any incidents to Minster Parish Council so something can be done.
The parish authority says it has received reports but doesn't have the power to take action.
"We have reported it to Thanet District Council to see if they can advise on whether anything can be done," a spokesman said.
"It's been in people's gardens and in the school grounds.
"It seems to be moving around the same area."
Thanet council confirmed it has received a report about the seagull.
"There is nothing that TDC can do directly regarding seagulls attacking school children or other residents," a spokesman said.
"We do not undertake culls of bird populations in Thanet as this is largely ineffective, but we can recommend specialist pest control services to individuals or groups experiencing problems in particular areas.
"The responsibility for the children's health and safety rests with the school whilst the children are there.
"If the children are eating their lunches or snacks in the playground, this is a potential source of interest for the seagulls that may be coming down to steal food.
"If this is the case, the school would need to take measures to remedy this which it seems that they are doing.
"In terms of practical help for Minster residents and the school, there is general information on the TDC website about seagulls, pest control and the law.
"With regards to seagulls at this time of year, I understand that methods for removing nests, bringing gulls down from roofs and hawking are all possible options when undertaken by a licensed pest control contractor."