A witness has spoken of her horror after a man allegedly beat a seagull to death with a child's spade – in front of a beach full of shocked onlookers.
The incident took place on Porthgwidden Beach in St Ives, and was witnessed by several children, says the witness.
She said a family sitting close to her repeatedly threw cans of fizzy drink at a nearby seagull, injuring the legally protected animal in the process, CornwallLive reports.
Allegedly, one member of the group then got up and "beat it to death with a kids spade".
When the witness and a family member confronted the group, they were verbally abused, she alleges.
Devon and Cornwall Police were called to the incident, but the group had left the beach by the time officers arrived.
The witness said: "We have just witnessed a family throwing Coke cans at a seagull, then as if this wasn’t bad enough, because one was badly injured from the can throwing, one of the men beat it to death with a kids' spade in front of all of our children and a whole beach full of families.
"We then confronted them to state how disgusted we were with their behaviour, to be verbally abused by them.
"They then left the beach, leaving behind rubbish, towels and sunscreen.
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"The police have been called but not much they can do without a name and address."
She added: "It was absolutely awful. In my whole life I have never witnessed that kind of violence against an animal."
The witness took photographs of the man who allegedly attacked the seagull and of the litter reportedly left behind by the group.
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Another man, who was not part of the group in question, has been praised by the witness for picking up the dead bird and moving it away from view of distressed children who witnessed the brutal act.
The woman is considering sharing photos on social media of the man who allegedly attacked the gull, in the hopes he will be identified – but she fears "backlash" from the group.
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Devon and Cornwall Police has not yet been able to confirm that the matter is being investigated.
The RSPCA said: "Gulls and their nests are protected by law: like all wild birds, gulls, their chicks and their nests are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
"This means it's illegal to intentionally kill, take or injure gulls, take or destroy their eggs, or damage or destroy any gull nests while they're in use or being built – unless you're acting under licence."
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