A West Kirby man who shot and killed a “nuisance” sea gull for waking him up at night has been fined almost £1,000 for his actions.
Retired Clive Cresswell, of Brookfield Gardens, said he was plagued by sea gulls every day and was unable to eat in his garden because of them.
He pleaded guilty to intentionally injuring the herring gull – which is protected under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 – as he carried out “target practice” from his bedroom window on June 5.
The 68-year-old – who was handed a 12-month conditional discharge and fined a total of £911.30 – appeared at Wirral magistrates’ court on Wednesday where his actions were described as “reckless” by District Judge Michael Abelson.
Cresswell was also ordered to hand over his £200 Walther pistol, which he told the Globehe used to shoot rats that wandered into his back garden from the Wirral Way.
Speaking after the hearing, former HGV driver Cresswell said he had no idea sea gulls were a protected species until the RSPCA knocked on his door three days after the shooting.
“They wake me up every morning at 3.30am. We have noticed this year a serious decline in the song birds in our garden and I put that down to the seagulls eating the chicks and the eggs.”
Cresswell – who shoots his gun from his bedroom window into his garden – said it’s difficult for him and his family to eat outside because of the birds, adding: “They just defecate everywhere. Why would anyone protect them?”
He described the incident as a “stupid moment” after becoming frustrated from seeing the bird in his garden. He said he had not been shooting directly at the bird and believed the pellet had “bounced off” the animal.
The court heard how RSPCA Inspector Anthony Joynes attended Cresswell’s home on June 8 after a member of the public had found the injured bird in her garden.
The gull was taken to Acorn Vets with serious fractures to its right wing. Veterinary surgeons said the bird – which had to be euthanised due to the severity of its injuries – would have suffered extreme pain.
Chris Murphy, prosecuting on behalf of the RSPCA, said: “The vet said that had the member of the public not found the bird, it probably would have died from starvation or infection from its injuries.”
Inspector Joynes told the Globe Cresswell showed no regard to it being nesting season and said the bird’s young could have been left to starve.
Cresswell – who has been an RSPCA donor for the last 15 years – described the hearing as a “waste of court time” and believed there were more important things that could have been dealt with.
He said: “I suppose I’ve just got to hold my hands up and pay them. I suppose I brought it on myself.”
Inspector Joynes told the Globe he resented the case being referred to as a “technicality” and said the charity was right to bring the prosecution – something District Judge Michael Abelson agreed with.
“The bottom line is, we live in a society where our wildlife is protected by law – it’s a criminal offence.” said Inspector Joynes.
“Whether you are aware it’s protected or not, you can’t take the law into your own hands because you deem an animal to be a pest.
“This was an act of deliberate cruelty.”
Inspector Joynes added: “With regard to it being a waste of court time, the RSPCA was born in 1824 to investigate and prosecute – that was our role, to stop cruelty, and this is exactly what this is.
“If it was a Golden eagle or a beautiful song bird, there would be no question or qualm about it being brought to court but because it’s a gull, people will just say ‘Oh, I don’t like gulls’ – that doesn’t make it ok.”
Gulls and their nests are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and it is illegal to harm them intentionally without a licence.
Anyone convicted of harming a bird faces a fine of up to £5,000 or up to six months imprisonment.
CREDIT: WIRRAL GLOBE