A seagull is a proper red herring after being spray-painted in what is believed to be a prank.
The young bird, which is still too young to fly was discovered on Whitby’s industrial park on Thursday afternoon.
It was literally head to foot covered in red paint, thought to be from a spray can.
It was taken in by Sky Scaffolding until a wildlife sanctuary could take the bird, nicknamed Poppy, under its wing.
North Yorkshire Police has been informed and confirmed that is is working with the RSPCA to try and identify who is responsible.
Alexandra Farmer, 25, from Broomfield House Wildlife Sanctuary is convinced the act is deliberate and the paint used is the same that is being used on the industrial estate for telecommunications work.
She told the Gazette: “They have spray painted under the wings and they would have had to lift them up.
“It is on both sides of the body, legs, head and face - it is in a right state.
It would have needed more than one person to do it.
“You can’t hold and spray a seagull with one hand. It is the fisrt time I have ever seen anything like this.
“It is definitely deliberate, if say it had fallen into a pot of paint it would not be under the wings or on its back but it is not emulsion.
“It has come from a spray can, there is no way it can have been an accident.”
Alexandra has been trying to clean the paint off the three month old gull but it is not shifting.
Traditional paint removal products would end up causing the animal more harm.
So, Alexandra is using washing up liquid and warm water - which is usually used to treat birds that have come into contact with oil - but even that isn’t working.
She added: “It had no effect whatsoever, all the feathers are rock hard.
“It may be a case that the paint fades away in time or she has to wait until her next malt.”
In the meantime, Poppy will stay at the sanctuary until she is able to fly- which could now take a couple of years.
But a special pen is going to have to be made fpor her to keep her away from the 30 other gulls that are currently being cared for at Broomfield Farm.
Alexandra added: “Seagulls know when another bird is injured or sick and tend to attack when they are vulnerable and this one most definitely is.”