FORMER Barrow MP Lord Walney had responded to claims that his actions have led to violence against seagulls.

Elisabeth Ashleigh of Bardsea Bird Sanctuary suggested that Lord Walney's calls for the need of seagull culls in coastal towns like Barrow to stop them "ripping open bin bags or attacking children and family pets" caused increased hate towards the birds in Barrow.

In response to this, Lord Walney said: "Over my nine years as the town’s MP, I like to think I had some influence on certain issues but I’m pretty clear that seagulls brought the hate on themselves without any encouragement from me!

"They’ve put a pensioner in hospital, caused gargantuan levels of mess in town and ruined countless people’s lunch by swooping on their food as they sat outside.

"Seriously though, violence against animals and birds is deplorable - no one should be hurting gulls or any other creature.

PEER: Lord Walney

PEER: Lord Walney

"But equally, people should not be put off from demanding stronger preventative measures by accusations of seagull hate.

"We should work out calmly how to address this problem and encourage gulls back to their natural diet of fish rather than chips, Gregg’s pasties and bin waste."

Ms Ashleigh has also suggested that police should do more by way of punishment for these crimes - like a recent incident of a man kicking a seagull in a park in Barrow - to deter people from attacking birds.

Samantha O’Key wildlife and rural crime coordinator said “All species of gull are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, making it an offence to intentionally kill or injure any gull, or damage or destroy an active nest or its contents.

“The overall population of herring gull is plummeting, and they are currently on the ‘red list’ for endangered species.

“In certain circumstance a licence can be applied for via Natural England to manage urban gulls, but only as a last resort, where there is significant risk to public health and safety. Cumbria Police investigate all reports of wildlife crime thoroughly, and where there is sufficient evidence, we will seek to prosecute.”