A British tourist was enjoying a vacation on the South Devon coast over the weekend when he stopped for an ice-cream cone during a stroll along a promenade.
But Steve Higgins didn't think about the aggressive coast-dwelling birds that pose a constant problem during summer months in Devon.
As Higgins was about to tuck into his treat, six or seven gulls launched themselves on the unsuspecting tourist. The birds snatched his ice-cream — prompting him to drop his cone on the ground.
Higgins was spotted ditching the cone and was slapped with a whopping fine of £80 (USD $115) for littering.
Mr Higgins told the Plymouth Herald the bird attack was “completely unexpected” and left him "really shaken up."
“The gulls had taken my ice-cream but had left me with the cone. I was scared that they would come back again, I was scared for my own safety.”
Higgins said he put the cone down on the grass and went to his car.
“Within seconds I was slapped with an £80 fine for littering. I was a tourist, I don’t live down there, I’m not aware of these things."
He continued, "If I had been aware I wouldn’t be walking around outside with an ice-cream. I was physically assaulted, and I dropped the cone because I was scared for my own safety if they came back.”
Higgins also questioned whether he had actually littered as the cone was biodegradable.
“It was foodstuffs, it’s biodegradable, so it’s not going to stay there forever,” he said.
“If there was a family on holiday and a child was attacked while eating, and dropped food on the floor would the parents be fined?
“If things like this are going to happen I won’t come back."
Higgins says incidents like this need to be addressed or people won't visit Devon. He wrote to 3GS, the environmental and civil enforcement company that issued him the fine, asking officials to reconsider.
The organization said the fine stands and believes that Higgins was in violation of the local littering policy.