A GULL is wreaking havoc by attacking terrified shoppers in Sunderland city centre.
Shocked Sandra Gurd is among those targeted by the rogue gull, which dive-bombed her as she walked near The Bridges.
Sandra, 61, from Pallion, had just bought a sandwich from Greggs and hadn’t even taken the food out of its wrapper when the bird swooped on her.
Sandra said: “I thought somebody had come behind me and got me on the back of my head.
“My heart was pounding. It hit me on the left side of the head.”
Sandra sought shelter in the nearby New Look store. She said: “The staff said they saw it attack me and asked if I wanted to sit down because I was so shaken up.
“I didn’t dare go back out for ages because it was still there. It looked like it was staring at me. They have had lots of complaints about this particular one that’s attacking everyone.
“It’s getting out of control. It’s huge. Apparently this one keeps doing this. It’s attacked kids in pushchairs to get their food.”
Sandra wants the council to step in and take action.
She said: “I don’t know if they could cull or something, but this one needs to be destroyed.”
Councillor John Kelly, Sunderland City Council’s portfolio holder for public health, wellness and culture, said: “The council is currently carrying out the annual proactive programme of bird control measures aimed at controlling the number of gulls in the city.
“All work carried out is required to be within the restrictions set out in the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 which protects all birds, but significantly in this particular case herring gulls, due to their protected status.
“Parent birds often swoop during the breeding season, particularly where the young birds leave the nest and are unable to fly.
“Where members of the public have particular problems with this type of seagull behaviour they can call the neighbourhood helpline, 0300 1000 101 for advice and, where appropriate, an officer may be able to visit remove any stranded young birds to a place of safety and resolve the problem of the aggressive adult.”
RSPCA spokeswoman Diane Roberts said: “As an animal welfare charity we would prefer the council to try to deter the seagulls rather than cull them.
“It is the ready availability of food sources in the town which brings the seagulls into close contact with humans. Many of them may be nesting on the tall buildings in the town and trying to defend what they see as their territory.
“The most humane and long-term solution to discourage the seagull attacks would be to remove or prevent access to what attracts them to the area.”
This is not the first time gulls have caused problems in urban areas.
In 2008, the people of South Shields suffered a spate of attacks from hungry gulls.
Postal workers in a seaside town in Devon came under attack in 2010 when nesting gulls launched a string of attacks as they protected their nests causing some disruptions to mail delivery services.
R&B singer Chris Brown recently had his own problems with the feathered fiends. Chris was enjoying some time on Miami beach when he was attacked by a flock of the gulls.
And last year, the Echo reported how a jackdaw was divebombing children at St Mary’s Primary School in Thornhill, Sunderland. The bird later became friends with 10-year-old pupil Emmanuel Adams after it started accompanying him home.