A man hired to decorate a café in Hastings, East Sussex was witnessed brutally killing a seagull on Tuesday, August 11. Members of a gull appreciation Facebook group reported the crime to the authorities. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) as well as the police are investigating the incident. Killing a seagull is illegal in the United Kingdom as it is a wild animal protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act. A petition has been created to bring the animal abuser to justice.

Mike Shipway of Hastings Old Town Gull Appreciation Group started a petition after an unnamed contractor killed a seagull in Hastings town centre outside Waterfalls Café and gift shop in Robertson Street. According to the petition as well as the Facebook post, the gull had stolen a sandwich. The decorator took it upon himself to punish the wild animal.

Shocked witnesses saw the man first strike the gull with a wooden board. Having been struck by the paint covered board, the gull was unable to escape from the attacker. The suspected animal abuser reportedly struck the bird a number of times.

The bird was still alive when the man supposedly stomped on it. The animal finally died after being trampled upon.

The RSPCA and police were informed of the incident. Police arrived at the scene and questioned the man who admitted to his actions. The body of the gull was handed over to the RSPCA. The identity of the animal abuser and the company he works for have not been made public as he is under investigation.

Some members of the Hastings Old Town Gull Appreciation Group claimed that staff at the coffee shop said that they did not care about the contractor killing the animal. This led to the restaurant getting significant backlash. They released a statement on their Facebook page stating that they were concerned by the contractor's behaviour. They assured that the company would not be rehired.

Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, intentionally causing harm or suffering to any bird or to damage or destroy nests, eggs or chicks is illegal. Seagulls are protected under the act and any harm caused to them carries a six-month prison term or £5,000 fine.

A petition has been started to prosecute a man who bludgeoned and trampled a seagull to death. (representational image) Getty