A man has branded those who dye and paint seagulls “cowards” after a chick he rescued died from the toxic paint it was covered in.
Steve Ault, 41, of The Crescent, was shocked to see that the bizarre nationwide craze had reached Bridlington, after he found a young seagull chick plastered in pink car paint. “They’re easy targets”, said Mr Ault, who moved to Bridlington from Warwickshire seven years ago.
“I think it’s a real act of cowardice, to be honest. Putting dye or paint on birds might be a laugh for some brainless idiots. Whoever did this to this chick used car paint and the feathers were rock-hard and it was in a pretty bad way.”
Mr Ault, a keen lover of nature and wildlife, regularly patrols the streets of Bridlington where he believes the chicks, which cannot yet fly, are easy targets for people who are “scared of them”.
When he finds a seagull at risk Mr Ault will bring them to the harbour or if they are sick or injured, he transports them to a sanctuary in Scarborough.
He added: “I brought this one home and it was eating and drinking, but it was shaking and dragging its wings. You can teach tolerance to people but in this case I don’t think it’s so much about tolerance as it is about ignorance.
“But it’s not about loving or hating them, it is about tolerance. It’s a criminal act and I would like the person who did this to be caught and be psychologically assessed.”
The RSPCA had previously commented on the craze, which has seen dozens of birds across the country being dyed, as “cruel” and potentially lethal.
A spokesperson added: “This isn’t funny, it is cruel and unnecessary, and it’s particularly concerning to hear about it happening to a chick.
“Dyeing a bird could cause allergic reactions and compromise the animal’s ability to communicate with other animals of their own and other species and make them more vulnerable to preda- tors.
“Some birds will try to clean any substance from their feathers to keep themselves clean. Having an unwanted substance on their feathers could lead them to ingest the dye/paint.
“Birds are living creatures and dyeing them in this way sends out an extremely worrying message.”