Seabird left flightless after attack by spray paint yobs

Poppy the herring gull
Poppy the herring gull
Have your say

A young herring gull will be unable to fly for two years and will have to be separated from other birds after being covered in red paint.

The baby bird, who rescuers have named Poppy due to her new colour, was taken in by Whitby Wildlife Sanctuary after she was found covered in thick spray paint.

Poppy is only a few months old and now faces a couple of flightless years while waiting for the damaged feathers to fall out.

Alexandra Farmer, 25, who runs the sanctuary, said she will not be able to live among the other gulls because she will be the victim of bullying.

She said: “She will be staying here at the sanctuary for a couple of years.

“She won’t be able to fly now because the paint has made the feathers rock hard and stiff. She keeps looking at her feet because they are so red but there is no way to wash it off.

“It will take a couple of years for the paint to come off in the malt. There is no way to cut the feathers for them to grow back so you would have to pull them all out which I am not going to do.

“I already have a gull pen with about 30 other rescue gulls but she is likely to be bullied.

“I’m going to build a new pen just for her because the gulls will know that something is wrong and they will pick up on that.”

The sanctuary received calls earlier in the week from concerned members of the public who spotted Poppy, so they put an appeal out on the lookout for the injured gull before she was found alone on an industrial estate on Thursday.

The sanctuary owner is now building Poppy her own pen with a paddling pool and food.

Police are appealing for information about the attack. A North Yorkshire police spokesperson said: “Anyone who has any information about the incident or knows who is responsible, is asked to contact North Yorkshire Police on 101.

“If you wish to remain anonymous, you can pass information to Crimestoppers on 0800 55 111.”