‘It’s the eejits feeding them chips’ – why seagulls are friends not foes

Seagulls are protected in Ireland under the 1981 Wildlife Act.
Robert Kindregan
Robert Kindregan

09.28 3 Apr 2024

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‘It’s the eejits feeding them...

‘It’s the eejits feeding them chips’ – why seagulls are friends not foes

Robert Kindregan
Robert Kindregan

09.28 3 Apr 2024

Share this article

Seagulls are our friends, not our enemies, and “deserve to exist” like all animals, according to a leading biologist and author.

On Newstalk Breakfast today, Dr Éanna Ní Lamhna said she disagreed the bird needed to be culled in certain areas like Howth where they have become prolific for stealing chips.

All species of seagulls are currently protected in Ireland under the Wildlife Act 1981, with populations in decline across Ireland and the UK.


Dr Ní Lamhna said they hold an important place in our ecosystem as scavengers.

Resilient animal

She also said they are a resilient animal that has managed to exist in Ireland throughout decades of wildlife destruction.

“We have half the amount of wildlife now than we did in the 1970s when I was growing up,” she said.

“We have done that by destroying where they live, getting rid of their food sources and, for the most part, the poor wildlife has folded up their tents, gone away, and become extinct.

“We have hardly any Curlew’s or Corncrake’s left but it’s the seagulls who are very smart and are fighting back.”

Seagulls following a ferry looking for food. Seagulls follow a ferry looking for food. Picture by: ton koene / Alamy Stock Photo

Dr Ní Lamhna said seagull behaviour is heavily influenced by humans.

“All this behaviour we don’t like is caused by us so we just need to suck it up,” she said.

“Why are some eejits feeding seagulls with fish and chips one day because they don’t want to eat half and then the next, when you don’t give him the chips quick enough, you get angry when he wants to take them from you?

“If we have destroyed their habitat then by God they are coming into where we live to get food – what do you expect?

“I think it’s great they have a darkness.”

Keeping them away

Dr Ní Lamhna said there are ways to keep them away from your house if you wish.

“People have made modifications in some places where they are nesting on roofs," she said.

“They are screeching and roaring at 5am in the morning, which isn’t very good when you're awake half the night with the baby.

“Making modifications could be one way of proceeding so they won't nest on the roof and that is fair enough.”


She also recommends keeping your area litter-free.

“You need to make sure that there is nothing on the streets to eat, but that would mean having a Council of perfection,” said Dr Ní Lamhna.

“If we have no food out for them, they will go somewhere else.

“What you want to do is make sure there’s nowhere for them to breed, the rooves aren’t suitable and have no food out for them to eat.”

New bins designed to keep seagulls from getting in and spreading waste around were rolled out in residential and business locations in Dublin city last summer.

Main image: A Seagull begging for food in Cornwall. Image: Jim Holden / Alamy Stock Photo

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Chips Culling Dr Eanna Ni Lamha Dublin City Council Newstalk Breakfast Scavengers Seagulls Wildlife Act

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