A volunteer wildlife rescue group has condemned the driver of a vehicle that it claims "deliberately" drove into a seagull to injure it.

The West Cornwall Wildlife Rescue and Rehab volunteers said they had to "literally pick up the pieces" after the adult herring gull was hit.

The group claimed on Facebook: "This poor adult herring gull will have its young to support and was deliberately injured by a large work vehicle driven in Hayle [Sunday] evening.

"The driver was witnessed to speed up to hit this poor animal on purpose. This is animal cruelty and also a wildlife crime."

It added: "Unfortunately we have to deal with a lot of crime against wildlife and it’s heartbreaking. We are left to literally pick up the pieces and see horrific injuries and suffering."

The post names a company alleged to have been involved and goes on to say that details including the van registration number and a description of the driver had been passed to police by witnesses.

The group was sent a message about the incident to its Facebook and said one of its volunteers drove straight to the area after discovering the bird was still alive.

Falmouth Packet:

The injured seagull when it was found. Photo: West Cornwall Wildlife Rescue and Rehab

After searching for around half an hour the bird was found, covered in blood.

"She managed to get to the emergency vet at Animal Veterinary Services in Hayle and the vet kindly agreed to attend to the victim even though it was now very late in the evening.

"The poor bird's wing bone was snapped in half and the bone was sticking out. So the bird has been left with an open fracture to its wing. His wing was literally hanging off. "There was nothing that could be done to save this majestic bird so the vet had to put to sleep to end the pain and suffering caused," added the group.

It went on to say: "It has hopefully also been reported to the RSPCA who can seek prosecution; and we are really hoping that there will be a prosecution.

"It is against the law to deliberately hurt and injure any animals, and attacking wildlife is also a crime.

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"Not only is it nesting bird season, herring gulls are on the list of species of conservation concern and at risk list due to a dramatic decline in their numbers.

"Gulls suffer badly due to people’s fear and misunderstanding as well as some people not seeming to understand we live on a living planet and need to live with our wildlife.

"Gulls have been made out to be unpopular due to their unique ecological niche as an opportunist scavenger marine species. Unfortunately they live and especially nest where lots of humans like to sit eating picnics, especially during the summer - their nesting season.

"Herring gulls have adapted to us altering their environment by building and living on their coastal habitats, and depleting it. We must now live alongside them and share their coast with them."

Devon and Cornwall Police confirmed that it had received a report that a man in a pick-up truck had driven at a seagull, inuring the animal, in Foundry Square, Hayle, at around 6pm on Sunday, July 12.

Anyone who witnessed what happened is asked to email police via 101@dc.police.uk quoting crime reference CR/056626/20.

The group is currently fundraising towards supplies and equipment to treat birds and other animals as such a busy time, via gofundme.com/f/cornwall-wildlife-veterinary-care