I HAVE a great respect for Ian Havelock but his statement that gull attacks on people do not occur is totally untrue.
Yes they are very rare occurrences.
However an elderly lady in Bridlington that I used to stay with on visits from London was walking back to her flat in Queensgate after playing bingo, when a herring gull landed on her head.
Although in her 80s she was a good walker and fled in panic to a neighbour who administered first aid, as blood was running down the sides of her face from a scalp wound.
The reason for the attack is unclear as she was only yards from her home and would not have been eating in the street.
I did hear later of a similar incident in Bridlington which resulted in an elderly man being hospitalised.
These birds are active predators and will exploit and learn from any opportunity to get food; and they probably recognise those less able to defend themselves.
The gulls patrol any area where people are known to feed them and the presence of a large raptor would probably increase the gull problem in areas away from the harbourside.
Herring gulls may be low in number but they are hardly on the endangered list, so I cannot see why they are protected.
Can a Peregrine falcon distinguish between a gull and a pigeon? What a stupid remark, it will probably go for the pigeon, but then pigeons fed by people can also become a health hazard. I leave a small amount of food out 2-3 times a week for the resident badger, but I don’t view it as some kind of outdoor pet.
To sum up in the absence of a cull, I think a pilot scheme involving birds of prey is certainly worth a trial and would provide both a study in bird behaviour and what is likely to produce the desired results.
Roy Corner, North Promenade, Whitby by email