War veteran fined $124 after kicking a seagull that tried to steal his cheeseburger
I know this might be a somewhat unpopular opinion, but the vast majority of birds suck. The likes of swans, peacocks and owls may look majestic, but underneath those preened feathers lie remorseless beasts of wrath, full of hisses, hate and rage. Pigeons are disease-ridden sky rats, and don't even get me started on ostriches.
Although hating birds takes up a good portion of my daily routine, there's one bird that stands above all when it comes to pure, venomous (and fully deserved) antipathy: the seagull. Found anywhere that there is fun to be ruined, these screeching harbingers of disappointment routinely root through our garbage, attack other birds for little more than for the fun of it, and steal all manner of food from us simply because they can.
Before I get too worked up talking about seagulls, let's get to why we're gathered here today: one man has led the resistance against these terrible, terrible birds, although it's probably a step too far to say that he did so on purpose.
Nate Rancloes, a military veteran who received a Purple Heart back in 2005, was having a nice lunch with his daughter when seagulls descended upon them wanting a bite of Rancloes' cheeseburger and fries. Trying to shoo away the bird with his leg, he accidentally struck the seagull, and that's when things went awry.
“I’d like to apologize and explain what happened," said Rancloes in an interview with NH1, where he attempted to give his side of the story after a woman by the name of April Novak posted on Facebook about the altercation. After the incident, he said that people started yelling at him.
Not wanting to cause a scene with his 11-year-old daughter in tow, Rancloes left as quickly as he could, but denies he tried to hurt the seagull on purpose. “There is an atrocious story on social media that I intentionally hurt the seagull. It is illegal and immoral to injure a seagull. If I intentionally hurt the seagull in front of hundreds of witnesses, I would perhaps be the dumbest criminal ever,” Rancloes said.
"I had just gotten back from getting a cheeseburger and fries. I was sitting on the sand. Seagulls got to my burger, and while still sitting in the sand, I spun around in a circle with my leg out to shoo it away, and unfortunately, did strike the seagull hard. It was a one in a million bad luck kick that couldn’t be repeated. This is no more than a simple mistake. But social media has blown it into something it is not."
Although April Novak's post above has since been deleted, the tale of Rancloes' unfortunate altercation went viral, shared more than 13,000 times with more than 3,600 comments. Many people were calling for Rancloes to be charged with animal cruelty, but a witness at the scene corroborated the veteran's version of events.
That being said, since seagulls are federally protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the New Hampshire Fish and Game department fined Rancloes $124 for the kick.