VIDEO: Bridlington woman ‘held hostage’ by seagull

A 69-year-old woman has described how she was too scared to leave home because of the threat from two seagulls guarding their chick in her garden.

Penny Freeman, of Vernon Road, Bridlington, said: “For four days I was held hostage in this house by two seagulls looking after a baby. It was terrifying for me, absolutely terrifying. I felt like a prisoner. The washing stayed on the line for four days.”

Scared to leave her home due to attacks by seagulls'Penny Freeman of 24 Vernon Road'NBFP PA1331-10b

Scared to leave her home due to attacks by seagulls'Penny Freeman of 24 Vernon Road'NBFP PA1331-10b

The gulls, whose chick had fallen into Penny’s garden from their nest on her roof, would squawk and behave defensively whenever Penny or her brother, Jim Fudge, 67, stepped into the garden.

“I was frightened to death. I was held hostage. A little old lady being terrorized by a seagull - it is not on is it?” said Penny, who has lived in Bridlington for less than a year.

The torment began around six to eight months ago when Penny began feeding birds visiting her garden, only for the gulls to become interested in what was on offer.

“When it was deprived of that it would start pecking at the kitchen window - we could hear it night and day,” said Penny, who believes she has been targeted by the same bird, but cannot be certain.

“They are like lizards, they are raptors and they have nasty scaly feet. I find them very threatening. Why should we be dictated to by a bird?”

Penny is now calling for action from the East Riding of Yorkshire Council.

She said: “I would like to see some sort of government help and advice for helping to keep them off your roof. I would like the council to start taking this seriously because the centre of town is a mess - it is a real mess.

“I do really think that something should be done to make sure this doesn’t happen to other people.

“I like to see birds from a distance we have a wonderful bird variety in the garden.”

A spokesperson for East Riding of Yorkshire Council said action is possible to reduce the impact of gulls in towns, however it believes culling is not a “practical or economical method of control.”

The spokesperson said: “Being harassed by the adult birds protecting their young can be difficult to deal with until the fledglings have left the area. The main way to resolve the problem is to proof buildings to prevent the birds nesting in the first place.

“Gulls can present a variety of problems, including noise, mess caused by droppings, damage to property, birds swooping on animals and people, and flues becoming blocked by nesting materials.

“The solution for individual property owners is to undertake bird-proofing measures to deter the gulls from roosting or nesting on their building.

“A range of proofing methods exist, including netting and bird spikes to deter birds from roosting. The responsibility for proofing a building rests with the property owner, and not the local authority.

“Problems arising from the aggressive behaviour of birds stealing food from people’s hands are exacerbated by the feeding of birds by residents and visitors.”

The number of seagulls living in Bridlington and other urban areas has dramatically increased over the past few years, according to Keith Clarkson, senior site manager at RSPB Bempton.

“The birds are moving into urban areas because people are feeding them,” said Mr Clarkson.

“It is making it easy for the gulls, I think we are bringing the problem on ourselves because we are pulling them away from the coast and attracting them to the urban areas.”

He advised anyone with a baby gull landing in their garden to try and place it high up, out of the way of cats.

Kay Harrison, of the RSPCA Bridlington, Driffield and District Branch, said: “Regarding gulls, people should not feed them. They do get very protective over their young and young birds should be left alone.

“Their parents will be watching them. Injured birds can be taken to any vet who will deal with them with no charge to the finder.”