Seagulls off the coast of Argentina have started feeding on live southern right whales, leading authorities to plan to shoot the birds.
Environmentalists disagree with police, saying the plan is misguided, reported the Associated Press. They say humans are the real problem as they have created so much garbage that the seagull population has grown exponentially, which has in turn endangered the whales.
According to Fox News, biologist Marcelo Bertellotti said the gulls are pecking and tearing at the whales' flesh in order to eat their skin and blubber. The decision to shoot the birds was made because whale watching is what brings tourists and money to the area.
"It's not just that the gulls are attacking the whales, but that they're feeding from them, and this way of feeding is a habit that is growing and becoming more frequent," Bertellotti said, according to Fox News. "It really worries us because the damage they're doing to the whales is multiplying, especially to infant whales that are born in these waters."
Whales have also become weary of the attacks, reported RT. Rather than coming above the water to display their tails, they have been coming up just long enough to breathe.
Police riding motorboats will selectively fire at seagulls that specifically attack whales, noted Argentine newspaper Clarín. Police have not yet said what type of ammunition they will use, but it is possible they will fire rubber bullets at the birds.