Recent seagull shootings in South Shields have left the North East Animal Rights Group (NEAR) calling for residents and businesses to do more to protect South Tyneside’s birds.
The group is working with police to prevent future shooting and believes businesses should also do more to prevent seagulls becoming trapped in roof netting which has not been maintained correctly.
Anna Malia, Founder of NEAR, said: “This time of year is especially frustrating for those of us who work to protect animals.
"Firstly from neglectful businesses who do not maintain netting properly, allowing birds to get trapped.
“This means birds are not only severely distressed and injured while they try to escape but it also means a lot of time and resources are wasted when it is all avoidable.
“Secondly, because of sick and inadequate individuals shooting them.
"We have a number of hot spots around the town, of which police are aware, where birds are deliberately shot, maimed and killed - just for kicks, just for fun or because someone doesn't like them.
"Seagulls are red-listed due to dramatic drops in numbers and harming them is a wildlife crime.
The recent shootings are currently being investigated by Northumbria Police.
A spokesperson said: “Officers are currently investigating two reports of wildlife crime in the South Shields area, following two separate reports of injured seagulls. In both cases the injured animals were taken to nearby shelters for treatment. Enquiries are on-going.”
A spokesperson for South Tyneside Council said: “We appreciate that seagulls can be a nuisance, particularly during their brief breeding season while rearing their young, but it is important to remember the birds are protected by law.
"Herring gulls are a red-listed protected species and under current legislation it is an offence to hurt, kill or interfere with the birds, nests or eggs.
“We will always work closely with the police to share intelligence on such matters and anyone who has any information about the incidents is urged to contact the Police.
"We would always encourage people not to feed the seagulls, to dispose of their litter responsibly and stay away from nesting areas and young gulls.”