Sunderland man demands refund on Big Mac stolen by seagull

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Gull victim demands safety measures to prevent bird attacks

A McDonald's customer who had his meal swiped by a seagull has demanded a refund and protective measures to prevent gull attacks.

Wayne Simpson, 56, from Sunderland, had just purchased a Big Mac from the fast-food chain when a gull swooped down and snatched it from his hands.

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This incident happened outside the South Shields branch in the town's King Street, and Mr Simpson is now urging the council to take action.

“It’s getting quite a problem," he said.

"It happens all the time to everybody”.

Seabirds have been getting increasingly audacious in recent years, with one notorious gull stealing crisps from the Greggs branch in King Street.

Similar incidents have been reported in Sunderland, including a particularly prolific feathered offender which preyed on Wearsiders' lunches in the Crowtree Road area.

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Mr Simpson sent an email to South Tyneside Council, explaining this latest incident and suggesting ideas to help stop the problem.

He also asked for a refund for his Big Mac, as he believed he should be reimbursed for the burger, due to it being ‘no fault of his own’ that he was unable to eat it.

There have been various discussions around placing a roof over King Street over the past few decades, and Mr Simpson believes such a covering, or netting, may be one way to prevent the bird attacks.

“The roof may spoil King Street but a net would work and stop people getting attacked. The council has to do something about it," he said.

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“You don’t want conflict between you and seagulls, which will happen if nothing is done”.

A spokesperson for South Tyneside Council said: “Seagulls are a very common sight in South Shields, as they are in any other seaside town.

“We do have measures in place to prevent birds from roosting and nesting in the town centre area and we would encourage businesses to make adequate arrangements to bird- proof buildings where roosting or nesting is an issue.

“However, they are currently a red list protected species which limits the actions that we can take. Under current legislation it would be illegal to carry out any form of cull or interfere with the birds, nests or eggs unless there was a risk to public health or public safety and, even then, could only be a last resort when other forms of deterrent have been tried or are impractical.

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Wayne Simpson, who had his burger stolen by a seagull in King Street, South Shields.Wayne Simpson, who had his burger stolen by a seagull in King Street, South Shields.
Wayne Simpson, who had his burger stolen by a seagull in King Street, South Shields.

“Seagulls are opportunistic birds and will take food when it is offered or available. We advise people to take caution when eating out in the open and we have signage in place strongly advising people not to feed the birds. “

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