The bird was whacked across the head by the angry thug, who was reportedly upset it had “stolen” bread from swans. He had been feeding the swans when the gull pounced, it is understood.
Horrified witnesses told Daily Record they were disgusted by the violence, said to have happened at around 6.30pm on Sunday in Saltcoats, Ayrshire.
When questioned about his actions, the man allegedly stated: “My bread is just for the swans.”
One witness, who asked not to be named, said: “I felt so helpless and couldn’t understand why someone would think that it was ok to bludgeon a seagull that was only trying to feed itself.
“This poor bird, who normally would have taken to flight when any human was near, was now in my arms completely still, traumatised and probably suffering from brain damage too.
“The disgust that I felt for this man was overpowering. This bird has every right to feed as well so how can he justify his actions? All wildlife deserves a life without cruelty.
“It is illegal to harm any wildlife and rightly so.”
The gull was rushed to Hessilhead Wildlife Rescue Centre nearby but vets there were unable to save it. It was severely concussed, they said.
Another witness said: “This was horrific to watch and I am just thankful that no children witnessed it.
“I thought it was strange to carry a pole whilst feeding the swans but it soon became apparent what the pole was intended for.
“I asked him why he did it and his reply was ‘my bread is just for the swans’. It would not surprise me if this man has done this before.
“If you see a man at Saltcoats lido feeding swans with a long pole keep an eye on him.”
The man is described as being in his mid-60s and was wearing a green wool hat and a red anorak jacket.
Andy Christie, who runs Hessilhead Wildlife Rescue said: “Fortunately we don’t get many cases like this one but hopefully people will realise that to harm a bird intentionally is a crime — particularly on a herring gull which is a species in drastic decline.
“The bird, which was a juvenile, was brought into the centre on Sunday and treated for concussion but it sadly passed away overnight.”
A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “Enquiries are ongoing after police received information a man was seen hitting a seagull with a stick in Saltcoats, resulting in its death.
“The incident occurred on Sunday, May 2, near to the outdoor swimming pool.”