A society set up to protect gulls says that pest controllers have illegally killed chicks which were members of a protected species – the herring gull.
Tim McKenzie, from National Gull Rescue and Protection, said that Ecolab killed protected herring gulls while working on BT property in Polegate.
BT and Ecolab claimed that the pest control company thought the two chicks they killed were lesser black backed gulls, which are not protected bird. Ecolab said that the two species look very much alike, but McKenzie disagrees.
"The lesser black backed gull and the herring gull look completely different and these people should know the difference - it is their business to know the difference,” the Eastbourne Herald quoted him as saying.
He added that there are no lesser black backed gull colonies in Polegate and that, even if they were, a licence from Natural England is required before they can be killed. Licences can be obtained if the birds are a risk to health and safety.
"This sort of license from Natural England would apply in the case of a hospital for example, not a BT depot with trucks driving in and out all day,” McKenzie told the Eastbourne Herald. “What sort of a health and safety issue would be caused there?"
McKenzie complained to BT about Ecolab’s actions but was not impressed with the response.
BT issued a statement on behalf of both themselves and the pest control company stating:
"BT employed a specialist firm, Ecolab, to deal with a pest control problem after gulls had created a hazard at its building in Eastbourne.
"Nesting gulls are recognised as a potential cause of hygiene, health and safety hazards, including diseases that affect humans and other animals.
"After the work was completed, BT received a complaint that the birds may have been protected herring gulls. Naturally, we take complaints very seriously and an investigation was undertaken. Of course, the policies of both BT and Ecolab are to comply with all applicable laws and regulations governing the humane removal of pests.”
BT claimed that both companies are recognised as being environmentally responsible.
McKenzie said the pest controllers used shovels to keep the adult gulls away.