Management at a High Wycombe shopping centre have addressed fears of baby seagulls being moved from their nests.

Dozens of outraged residents took to social media to condemn Eden Shopping Centre staff for allegedly removing the birds from their nests and “dumping them on the pavement outside”.

People claimed staff members were heard saying they “remove young birds from their nests hoping the adults will follow”, slamming it as “illegal”, “cruel” and “disgusting”.

All species of seagulls are protected, with the act of removing any dependant birds from their nests falling foul of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, which covers England and Wales.

According to the RSPB, this makes it illegal to intentionally or, in Scotland and Northern Ireland, recklessly injure or kill any gull or damage or destroy an active nest or its contents.

Eden Shopping Centre director Andrew Norton reassured the BFP and residents that staff are aware that birds cannot be disturbed in or removed from nests, and that the young bird was reportedly removed from a restaurant.

He said in a statement: “We can confirm that maintenance teams at Eden do not remove baby seagulls or pigeons from their nests.

“We have occasionally relocated young birds from the floor of the mall closer to their nests where their mothers can find them.”

Tony Sterry, who helped concerned resident Sue Howe, of Pawt in a Storm, to rescue the bird and take it to animal welfare charity Tiggywinkles, wrote on social media: “Although exhausted and dehydrated, he was not injured in any way and will be released back into the wild in a few weeks when he’s strong enough to fly.”