A YOUNG herring gull must be kept isolated from other birds after cruel yobs attacked it with spray paint.

The gull was taken in by Whitby Wildlife Sanctuary, after she was found on Thursday covered in thick red paint.

The young bird, who rescuers have named Poppy due to her new colour, is only a few months old and faces a couple of flightless years while waiting for the damaged feathers to fall out.

Alexandra Farmer, 25, who runs the sanctuary, said Poppy will not be able to live among the other gulls because she will be the victim of bullying.

She said: “She will be staying here at the sanctuary for a couple of years.

“She won’t be able to fly now because the paint has made the feathers rock hard and stiff. She keeps looking at her feet because they are so red but there is not a way to wash it off.

“It will take a couple of years for the paint to come off in the moult.

There is no way to cut the feathers for them to grow back so you would have to pull them all out which I am not going to do.

“I already have a gull pen with about 30 other rescue gulls but she is likely to be bullied.

“I’m going to build a new pen just for her because the gulls will know that something is wrong and they will pick up on that.”

Alexandra explained that the sanctuary had received calls earlier in the week from concerned members of the public who had spotted Poppy, so they put an appeal out on the lookout for the injured gull before she was found alone on an industrial estate.

Alexandra added that Poppy will now need lots of care to be nurtured back to health.

She said: “She is only a baby and so she is unable to fly at the moment which means she is fairly easy to get hold of. It looks like the paint that is used on the road. I think two people must have painted her because they have lifted her wings to paint underneath. One person would have held her and the other would have painted.

“She’s going to need a lot of TLC. The paint is very fumy and I’ve had to keep her in a well aerated room. She smelt terrible when she was found and that amount of fumes would make breathing quite difficult.

“They have painted her face and so I am taking her to the vet to make sure she didn’t breathe too much of it in.”