Equally, you don’t have to be too familiar with one element of the so-called ‘Jersey Way’ to know that it is not the law that is an ass, but lawmakers.
Evidence of this comes in a recent proposal from the big brains at the Environment Department, who appear to think that it would be a good idea if those feeding ‘seagulls’ – and by this we must assume that
they mean herring gulls – could be fined £1,000.
OK, anyone who, as a town resident or beachgoer, has been plagued by the unwanted attention of these creatures might not think that this is such a bad idea, though the level of the envisaged maximum fine would, I submit, be both draconian and absurd.
The idea that I could be fined a grand for throwing a few crusts over the hedge on the subjective say-so of some jobsworth who had assessed my bird-feeding as likely to occasion a ‘statutory nuisance’ is troubling.
However, it is in the finer print of the proposal that the idiocy actually begins. It has been reported that a nuisance might arise if feeding were to involve any ‘wild animal, bird, insect, reptile or fish’.
Now I don’t want to be seen as a pedant – well, not much – but could I first point out that birds, insects, reptiles and fish are all animals?
The proposed legislation would therefore kick off with a fine, if regrettable, example of tautology. It is, meanwhile, difficult to imagine many people recklessly feeding insects or reptiles, though mullet-fishing fans could be in the line of fire if they dispensed their chervie too liberally.
As far as the real targets of the law – those pesky gulls – are concerned, has anyone else noticed that one notorious group of habitual delinquents appear to have changed their ways?
The gulls at Grève de Lecq have long been infamous for mugging anyone naïve enough to eat a sandwich or an ice-cream without guarding it very, very carefully.
But based on a few visits this year, my impression is that the Grève birds are far less aggressive and far less likely to make those deft but alarming dive-bomb raids in search of an easy lunch. Maybe I’ve been there on the bad boys’ day off. Or perhaps they’ve flown elsewhere – such as the Parade Gardens – where the pickings are even easier.