Students have been slammed after their 'reckless behaviour' led to the death of a group of seagulls.

Around 12 gulls died in Chickerell following an incident involving school pupils on their way home.

Students were reported to have been seen throwing bread onto Chickerell Link Road next to the Putton Lane junction, luring the birds in front of the wheels of fast-moving traffic.

In the incident, which took place on Tuesday, June 20 at approximately 3.30pm, seven of the gulls were killed instantly after being run over and another five were taken to a nearby vets where they had to be euthanised.

The youths were reported to be wearing Budmouth Academy uniforms.

A spokesman for the school said: "We are disappointed that three members of the school community engaged in reckless behaviour on their way home from school last week.

"We take animal welfare very seriously. The students involved have been identified and we have engaged with their parents and ensured that appropriate sanctions and education have been put in place."

All wild birds including seagulls are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and it is illegal to intentionally take, injure or kill wild birds or interfere with their nest or eggs unless you are acting under license.

A spokesman from the RSPCA said: "This is an unacceptable way to behave towards any animal and we'd encourage people to show care and kindness towards wildlife.

"We'd be keen to speak to anyone who saw what happened, or from anyone who has dash cam or CCTV footage from the time this happened that can help with an investigation. Anyone with information can contact the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999.

Chickerell Town Councillor, Jean Dunseith said: "It's very upsetting to think that there are people out there that would encourage that sort of behaviour it's just very cruel."

Although gulls are a common sight in many areas near the coast, some species of gull, such as herring gulls and kittiwakes, are on the UK Red List.

They're considered species of conservation concern in the UK because there's evidence suggesting that their populations are in decline overall.