Six gulls huddled for warmth were struck and killed by a driver in the parking lot of the Champlain Mall in Dieppe on Boxing Day, according to the Atlantic Wildlife Institute.
Three herring gulls and three great black-backed gulls were hit. Four were found dead and two had to be destroyed later on Thursday.
The gulls were likely resting together to stay warm when they were hit between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m., said Pam Novak, the director of wildlife care at the institute.
"Somebody, we figure, intentionally hit them, because this was the parking lot on Boxing Day. It was empty because the mall was closed."
Novak said she received a call around 10:30 a.m. about injured birds in the parking lot near the Great Canadian Bagel. She reported the incident to the RCMP and asked them to meet her there.
Codiac RCMP told Radio-Canada they are investigating the incident.
"It's always frustrating and it's very maddening and sad … because you're seeing birds that are just trying to stay warm," Novak said. "They're trying to protect themselves when they're getting in groups like this.
"They don't see this kind of thing coming at them so it's very sad, especially when you can't save any of the birds."
A similar incident happened Oct. 27 when a truck plowed through a group of gulls in the parking lot of the Moncton Coliseum, killing 20 birds and injuring 11.
Codiac RCMP investigated the incident and tracked down the GMC Sierra truck after a witness provided a licence plate number. It's unclear if the driver was ever identified.
Most birds, including various species of gulls, are protected by Canada's Migratory Birds Convention Act.
Killing them or destroying their nests is illegal.
"The more people that are aware that these birds do have protection and that this is cruelty and this is abuse, we can try to help stop it," Novak said.