Number of seagull 'muggings' in Scarborough almost halved in 2019

The number of gull attacks on people along the Scarborough coast dropped by almost 50% last year, although no-one seems to know why.

By Carl Gavaghan, Local Democracy Reporting Service
Wednesday, 8th January 2020, 12:44 pm
Updated Wednesday, 8th January 2020, 12:45 pm

Scarborough Council has been tracking the number of “muggings” since 2016 as it looks to try and combat issues with the seabirds nesting in Scarborough, Whitby and Filey, which has included the removal of hundreds of eggs and nests.

New figures released by the authority show that in 2019 there were 25 reported muggings, so-called as they often involve the birds swooping down to snatch food out of people’s hands.

This represented a fall from 47 the previous year and 46 in 2017.

Sign up to our daily The Scarborough News Today newsletter

Stock image: Getty Images.

A report, prepared for next Wednesday’s (15th) Overview and Scrutiny Board, notes that there is no obvious reason for the reduction.

It states: “In the calendar year of 2019 there has been a drop in reported incidents to 25.

“There is no clear explanation for this dip in reported gull muggings in 2019 and it cannot be directly linked to any council initiatives.

“We will have to see if this trend continues in future years, before drawing any firm conclusions.”

The number of egg and nest removals were also down across the borough, with the drop blamed on weather conditions and delays caused by a change in Natural England’s process for securing the removal licence.

Since March 2016 when the council started tracking data on the gulls, 111 out of the total of 154 reports of gull muggings have come from the Scarborough area.

The most common locations were Scarborough’s main shopping strip in Westborough and around seafront sites such as Foreshore Road, the harbour and Sandside.

In 109 of the cases, the victims described food being stolen from them by gulls and the other 45 mentioned being directly attacked by the birds.

Next week, the Overview and Scrutiny Board will be asked to support the recommendations to continue with a number of measures around gull-proofing buildings and public engagement around the feeding of birds.

A firm will also be employed during the summer to clean areas that are frequently covered in gull droppings.