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Beachgoer shamed on social media denies trying to harm burger-filching seagull in Hampton

Union Leader Correspondent

September 05. 2018 9:44AM
Fish and Game says a seagull at Hampton Beach was not intentionally injured by a beachgoer on Aug. 26. (FACEBOOK)

HAMPTON — A seagull wasn’t intentionally injured by a beachgoer during a scuffle over a cheeseburger that made it onto social media and into local news headlines, say officials.

New Hampshire Fish and Game Lt. Michael Eastman said the man and his daughter were visiting Hampton Beach Aug. 26 when seagulls began “harassing” them as they prepared to have a bite to eat.

“He was trying to fend off the seagulls. They were trying to take not only his food but his daughter’s food,” Eastman said.

At one point during the close encounter, one of the gulls grabbed the man’s cheeseburger and flew off, Eastman said. When the man spun with his foot in the air trying to intercept the stolen burger, his foot connected with another gull by accident.

“It sounds like it wasn’t intentional,” Eastman said. “He wasn’t looking to hurt the bird.”

Eastman said the investigating officer interviewed the man after he was identified following a social media post by another beachgoer who accused him of assaulting the bird.

Other witnesses corroborated the man’s story, Eastman said.

While the seagull’s injury may not have been intentional, Eastman said, the man may still be cited for harassing a protected bird; gulls are a protected species under the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

“It wouldn’t fall under the category of animal cruelty by any means,” he said.

The case was initially investigated by Hampton police after a woman who witnessed the incident reported it and posted on Facebook that she took her children to the beach and saw a man “slamming a seagull with his foot” because the bird was “bothering him.”

The woman, who posted photos of the seagull and the man on Facebook, claimed the bird’s leg appeared to have been broken and that at one point it almost drowned before another woman rescued it from the water.

Animals General News Hampton