RSPCA calls for air gun controls after 87 animals shot in East of England in 2018 - with 20 in Norfolk
PUBLISHED: 16:08 18 July 2019 | UPDATED: 18:57 18 July 2019
Calls have been made for the licensing of air guns after 87 animal shooting reports from the East of England last year - including 20 in Norfolk.
There were 767 reports across England and Wales, as RSPCA data revealed that pet cats and pigeons bore the brunt of the cruel attacks.
Elsewhere in the East, figures showed there were 23 attacks in Essex, 14 in Cambridgeshire, and 12 in Suffolk.
The five counties recording the most incidents for animals being shot by air guns last year were Greater London (38), Greater Manchester (36), Kent (35), West Midlands (33) and South Yorkshire (28). The RSPCA is repeating its call now as incidents rise during summer months, when there are more daylight hours.
As well as mandatory licensing, the RSPCA wants a range of measures to tackle the problem.
Dermot Murphy, RSPCA chief inspectorate officer, said: "Animals are suffering horrendous injuries and often dying as a result of air gun attacks and these weapons are also potentially extremely dangerous for people.
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"Every one of the 258 pet cats and 73 dogs deliberately killed or maimed last year by people using air guns represents a devastated family.
"And the cruelty continues, with large numbers of wild mammals and birds, including foxes, squirrels, swans, gulls and pigeons targeted as well.
"We believe air gun misuse is happening on a large scale and what we see at the RSPCA could be the tip of the iceberg. We believe that stricter controls are long overdue.
"Mandatory licensing would be an effective start, but we also need improved enforcement of air gun legislation as well as better, more targeted education and explanation of the law for those buying one."
Nearly half of vets who replied to a British Veterinary Association survey in 2016 said they had treated cats which had been victims of air gun crime and nearly half those incidents had proved fatal.
A government review into the use of air guns concluded 18 months ago but has yet to report its conclusions and recommendations.
Was your pet targeted in 2018? Email firstname.lastname@example.org