Gulls nesting on police car put vehicle out of action​

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Officers are unable to clear the clump of twigs and branches because - as they well know - it is illegal to damage or destroy a birds' nest - Graham Hunt
Officers are unable to clear the clump of twigs and branches because - as they well know - it is illegal to damage or destroy a birds' nest - Graham Hunt

A police car has been put out of action after a pair of protected seagulls started nesting on its roof.

Officers are unable to clear the clump of twigs and branches because it is illegal to damage or destroy a birds' nest under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

Instead, they have coned off the patrol car in the seaside town of Bridport, Dorset, to keep members of the public away from it.

A spokesman for the RSPB said they were reassured that the birds would be safe while under police protection.

However, as the nesting season for seagulls runs until July, the squad car could be out of use for months.

The herring gulls have propped up their nest against the long blue strobe light fixed to the roof. They have been observed coming and going from it as they prepare to lay and incubate their eggs.

A spokesman for Dorset Police said: "Officers at Bridport Police Station noticed the nesting seagull three days ago and were aware that it should not be disturbed under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

"We are now liaising with Natural England to explore what options are available to us in these unusual circumstances.

"As this is a spare vehicle, there are sufficient cars at the location to meet our operational requirements and there will be no impact on our daily activities.

"However, we are keen to get the vehicle operational as soon as possible."

The seagulls' nest in Dorset - Graham Hunt/BNPS
The seagulls' nest in Dorset - Graham Hunt/BNPS

An RSPB spokesperson said: "Whilst a somewhat surprising place for this lovely herring gull to nest, we hope that under the protection of the Dorset constabulary this bird will be safe from harm.

"Herring gulls are on the red list of highest conservation concern and like many seabirds face a range of threats.

"Fortunately, it won't be long before the eggs hatch - and the young are away not long after hatching, so hopefully these gulls will do better with the thin blue line than they often do in the deep blue yonder."

The RSPCA said: "Birds are at their most vulnerable when nesting. Any disturbance could kill or injure wild birds and their young - or cause parent birds to abandon their nest, eggs and young.

"Nests can't be moved or destroyed while they're being built or still in use - apart from under certain exceptions to allow the control of certain birds for specific reasons under licence.

"Anyone found guilty of an offence could be given a maximum penalty of six months' imprisonment and an unlimited fine, which can be imposed in respect of each bird, nest or egg affected."

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