Residents demand action after gulls die after becoming trapped in netting on Whitby store roof

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Residents in Whitby are campaigning for the removal of netting on the B&M Bargains store in Stainsacre Lane after seven seagulls have become trapped and died.

Angela Noon, who began a petition against the nets which has more than 1,400 signatures, has described the netting as “a death trap”.

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She said: “Countless innocent birds are being left to die.

“Such neglect of wildlife should never have been allowed to happen.”

Alex Farmer, founder of Whitby Wildlife Sanctuary, said that over the past six weeks they have attempted to help the seven gulls, two of which died over a period of days in the netting and one which they had to euthanise as the injuries to its leg were so severe.

The situation came to a head last weekend when a gull was trapped for several days.

Miss Farmer explained due to the nature of the building, the fire service are needed to help rescue gulls, but can only attend when requested by the RSPCA.

Miss Farmer added: “We were making repeated calls to the RSPCA for the whole weekend whilst the gull was alive and nothing was done.”

North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service confirmed they had not received any requests to attend the store over the weekend.

They were last at the store on May 26 when they assessed and left a deceased bird in the netting for the landlord to have removed.

A spokeswoman for the RSPCA said: ““It is upsetting to see an animal or bird in distress and we will always try to help.

"We have visited this site on a number of occasions to rescue trapped, injured and dying birds with the assistance of the Fire and Rescue Service.

“We are monitoring the situation and liaising with the business at the premises to try to get them to resolve the issue as soon as possible.

“We understand that the store is now arranging to find a permanent solution to the problem.”

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Miss Farmer said her team were left “looking helplessly from the sidelines”.

She added: “The whole situation is being ignored. If it was a cat, or a bird of prey, this would have been sorted.”

In the UK all gull species are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act.

Chris Calow from the RSPB said: “The photographs clearly show that the trapped bird is distressed, and now that a gull has been caught in the netting the store will need to look at whether they can legally keep the netting up.

“The law is clear, it is illegal to intentionally trap or kill a wild bird without permission from the Government, and this extends to knowingly leaving up deterrents that could trap a bird.

"We believe that netting must be used sparingly and only if there is absolutely no alternative, and with regular monitoring to ensure that our wildlife is not getting trapped, injured or worse.”

North Yorkshire Police attended the store on Monday when an officer advised that if the netting is to stay up then it should be maintained to prevent trapping.”

Whitby Town Council said they plan to contact the landlord for details about the installation and maintenance of the netting and to ask for roof access to be granted to Whitby Wildlife Sanctuary in the short term.

Town Clerk Pam Dobson said: “We can understand why they’re using the nets but it is completely unacceptable that birds are being trapped and left to die.”

A spokeswoman for B&M Bargains explained the maintenance of the netting was the responsibility of the landlord rather than themselves.