‘SEAGULLS are the sound of the seaside and should not be culled’ - that’s the view of wildlife campaigner Steve Trewhella after Prime Minister David Cameron said a ‘big conversation’ was needed about the birds.

Dorset resident and photographer Mr Trewhella has waded into the debate to defend gulls after negative stories about the birds in the national media.

The news comes after a seagull was poisoned in Bridport earlier this month, an incident labelled ‘cruel and unnecessary’ by police.

Mr Cameron said there needed to be a ‘big conversation’ about aggressive seagulls after a spate of attacks saw a Yorkshire terrier and a tortoise killed in Cornwall. The PM admitted the seagulls are a ‘problem’.

All gulls, like other wild birds, are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

It is illegal to intentionally injure or kill any gull or to damage or destroy an active nest.

The government can issue licences for control measures if there is a public health or safety risk but not if gulls are just causing a nuisance.

Mr Trewhella said the gulls are ‘making the best of a bad job’ with the waste and litter that has spewed onto the streets and beaches in Dorset and across the rest of the UK.

He added: “Nesting on roof tops and eating chips and ice creams is not good, but our filthy habits give these gulls the opportunity.

“We have destroyed the gull’s natural nesting sites and fished their seas to destruction.

“If people stopped dropping litter, leaving chip wrappers on beaches and benches and stopped feeding the gulls like the signs discourage, maybe this ‘problem’ that the gulls have supposedly created wouldn't be so.

“Gulls suffer at our actions enough; swallowing plastic bags, chocking on waste and trying to find fish in a sea that has been decimated by hundreds of years of abuse.”

Mr Trewhella said culling the ‘iconic species’ should not even be questioned and that seagulls were ‘the sound of the seaside’.

He added: “We need to disassociate the gulls with us and the only way we will be able to do that is by being less messy.

“Seagulls are opportunists and given the chance of leftover food they will take it, rather than spend hours hunting.

“Gull numbers are declining; we already face the prospect of losing them forever and national newspapers fuelling the publics hate for all that isn't fluffy does not help.”

In his March budget, George Osborne pledged £250,000 for research into ‘aggressive’ seagulls, but the project was judged as low priority and cancelled.