A YOUNG gull found has been found covered in bright pink paint after a suspected prank which could have killed the bird, an animal welfare charity has warned.
The herring gull – now named Blush – was spotted wandering near the pier in Mallaig, on the west coast.
The Scottish SPCA fears the chick may have been targeted as a joke, but the charity has emphasised this could have resulted in serious injury or death.
Senior Inspector Gill MacGregor was called to rescue the young gull after it began to attract public attention and used a net to catch it.
The bird was checked for injuries before being transported to the Scottish SPCA’s Wildlife Rescue Centre at Fishcross, near Alloa.
Despite the charity’s best attempts to clean the gull the fluorescent pink paint or dye remains embedded in its feathers.
Centre Manager Colin Seddon said, “We have specialist oiled-bird cleaning facilities where we have successfully cleaned many birds found covered in various types of oil.
“However, despite our efforts this paint or dye simply will not budge and Blush remains pink. We don’t know exactly what type of material it is but we think it could be graffiti-type spray paint or hair dye.
“Although Blush’s appearance may have raised a few laughs, we are very concerned that someone has done this to a defenceless creature.
“It’s lucky that the dye had not gone into its eyes as this could have blinded him or at the least caused pain and discomfort.
“If Blush had been left outdoors on his own in this state then he would have been continuously attacked by other birds.
“He is one of this year’s chicks and not yet matured so he would not have been able to defend himself and could have been injured or even killed.
“We cannot release Blush back into the wild in this condition so we will care for him until he has his first molt and new feathers replace the damaged ones.”