‘Stuka dive-bomber’ gulls killing mature sheep inland

Giant seagulls have begun attacking and killing mature sheep inland in South and West Kerry, it has emerged.

Also, in one dramatic attack, a seagull swooped on a motorcyclist on the road between Waterville and Cahersiveen. The man compared it to a Second World War Stuka dive-bomb attack, so expertly was it executed, with the gull protecting his wings.

News of the attacks comes just days after Fianna Fáil’s Senator Denis O’Donovan demanded a cull of the “vicious” seabirds, saying it was coming to the stage where they are endangering society.

Part-time mountain sheep farmer and rural development officer John McCrohan witnessed the deaths of two mature ewes in an attack by a number of gulls on his farm between Camp and Annascaul.

Mr McCrohan, brandishing a stick, barely fought off the gulls, as both ewes died.

He said both animals were mature, not yet shorn, yet the gulls managed to savage them through their thick coat of wool. The gulls used not just their beaks, but also their claws. Even when he intervened, the gulls waited a short distance away.

“I am convinced, if I didn’t have that stick, they might have attacked me,” the farmer said on Radio Kerry.

He has called for a cull on the gulls, which are encroaching further and further inland from the coast. They are commonplace in mountainous areas now; only in storm conditions would they have been seen inland previously.

Bridget O’Connor, a sheep farmer near Camp outside Tralee, suffered the same experience last year. Generations of farmers had farmed the land, but had never seen gulls. Last March, two lambs were attacked and Ms O’Connor, who witnessed the episode at around 6am, said the lambs were left in an awful state, with their entrails torn out by the gulls. She said they had been “gored to death”.

In Iveragh, motorcyclist Vincent Appleby was travelling at about 40km an hour when a large gull nearly knocked him off his bike.

“He nearly knocked my head off. It was like a Second World War Stuka coming in. He knew what he was doing, he turned at the last minute, so his wings wouldn’t hit,” he said.

Mr Appleby works as a ghillie and guide. He said at one time he had been befriended by a large gull as he fished on Waterville Lake. He said gulls were very clever.


More in this Section

Hospitals face closure under new targets law

‘This feud is only starting’: 30 pellets left in baby’s leg after shooting

Kelp-harvesting plan to go ahead in Bantry Bay

Cocaine-related overdoses rising, figures show


Breaking Stories

Australian police appealing for information on missing Irish man Craig Lambe

Irish workers could be forced to pay 10% of wages in new pension scheme

40% reduction in heart attack deaths since 2007 - report

Central Bank warns households about taking on new debt, 10 years on from financial crisis

Lifestyle

No wee feat: Daniel back in the charts with new album this Christmas

The League Of Gentlemen sketch troupe back on TV screens after 15 years

Get ready for the Jedi in latest Star Wars instalment

A heavy burden for such young shoulders caring for parents this Christmas

More From The Irish Examiner