Just days after a Fianna Fáil Senator called for a cull of “vicious” seagulls reports have emerged from the Dingle Peninsula of the birds attacking and killing sheep and one man being thrown from his motor cycle due to a bird’s attack.
A part-time mountain sheep farmer and rural development officer, John McCrohan, said he witnessed the deaths of two mature sheep, attacked by a number of seagulls, between Camp and Annascaul, in County Kerry.
McCrohan told Radio Kerry, that he fought the gulls off the sheep with a stick, but two ewes died. The sheep had not been shorn and McCrohan commented on the fact that the birds managed to kill them despite their thick wool, using their beaks and claws. He said that despite scaring them away from the animals they remained close by.
The farmer said “I am convinced, if I didn’t have that stick, they might have attacked me.”
Crohan echoed Senator Denis O’Donovan’s calls for a cull of the seabirds, who are moving inland. The farmer said previously the birds would only be found inland during stormy conditions. However now their presence is commonplace.
Another sheep farmer, Bridget O’Connor from near Camp, said she had a similar experience last year, and she had never seen anything like it. Last March two of her lambs were attacked and left in what she described as an awful state, with their entrails ripped out. She said the young animals had been “gored to death.”
In another incident in Kerry, on the road between Waterville and Cahersiveen, motorcyclist Vincent Appleby was traveling at 40km an hour when a seagull knocked him off his bike.
He said, “He nearly knocked my head off. It was like a Second World War Stuka coming in. He knew what he was doing. He turned at the last minute, so his wings wouldn’t hit.”
Appleby, who works as a guide for hunting and fishing, said that he had once befriended a large seagull as he fished at Waterville and commented on how smart the gulls can be.
He said, “I'm asking for a debate on this very important issue. Seagulls are actually becoming a nuisance and a pest.
"I think it's important that we should consider Senator O'Sullivan's request last year that we should look at a cull on this vicious seabird, which is against our grain, they were normally living out at sea.
"They nest on the cliffs, but they are now invading the towns and the villages."
O’Donovan’s comments came after a Dublin woman, Vanessa Keegan, had her cellphone stolen by a seagull in the National Botanic Gardens.
She said, “ I turned back to take more photographs of the baby and my daughter Caroline said 'Mam he has your phone' – and I turned around and he just had my phone in his beak and he just flew right up over my shoulders.
"I jumped up and there were two gardeners there (who) saw what happened...and we all started chasing a seagull.
"But it veered over a pond and just dropped it straight into the middle of the pond."
O’Donovan is not the first senator to address the issue in Ireland. Last year, Senator Ned O’Sullivan also spoke in the Senate about the need to introduce some sort of measures to manage the situation.
He said, “They really are vermin. They’re scavenger gulls. Dump gulls. The seagulls have lost the run of themselves completely.”
Last week, British Prime Minister David Cameron also called on the bird’s protected status to be removed, following a series of attacks on animals and people there.