Shocked onlookers – including children – watched in horror as a man beat a seagull to death after it stole a chip from his plate.
The unidentified man was seen grabbing the bird by its feet and swinging it against the wall during the shocking incident on Weston-super-Mare’s busy seafront on Tuesday afternoon.
Mum-of-three Rachael Beer, who manages Luigi’s Sweet and Rock shop in the town, witnessed the bird killing.
She said: ‘I saw a seagull squawking and then taking a chip from a man’s plate.
‘Suddenly he then grabbed it by its feet and swung it against the wall.
‘I heard one of the mums say ‘why did you do that in front of my child?’ and he said ‘it’s vermin, you should teach your children about vermin’…
‘I said ‘why did you do that’ and he just shrugged his shoulders and walked away.’
Eyewitnesses to the attack were said to be visibly shaken, with many in tears at what they had just seen.
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Rachael said despite the attack, the seagull had not been killed outright – but was later put down by a vet.
She added: ‘The seagull wasn’t dead at first.
‘We could see its eyes twitching. Thankfully a passerby came and took it to the vet.
‘Seagulls are a problem but to kill a seagull like that is just wrong.’
An RSPCA spokesperson said: ‘This is a shocking incident and a completely unacceptable way to treat an animal, it must have been very upsetting for witnesses to the attack.
‘We are grateful to the members of the public who were able to get this gull to a vet so it did not have to suffer further.
‘Anyone with information about this attack is urged to contact the RSPCA.’
The man is described as being in his 60s, white, about 5ft 8ins tall and with greying hair. He was wearing pink shorts, a blue and pink checked shirt and brown sandals.
A spokesman for Avon and Somerset Constabulary said it was offence to kill or harm a seagull under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and urged anyone with information about the incident to contact the RSPCA or get in touch with police.