THE RSPCA is calling for tighter air gun controls, after receiving 767 reports of animals being shot in 2018 across England and Wales.

Nineteen animals were reported shot by air guns in Cheshire, including a tragic case of tortoiseshell cat Roxy, who was put to sleep after being shot on a garden fence in Northwich.

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Northwich Guardian:

With cats and pigeons bearing the brunt of the cruel attacks, the RSPCA says attacks spike in the summer.

As well as mandatory licencing, the charity is calling for a range of measures to tackle the problem of air guns.

Dermot Murphy, RSPCA chief inspectorate officer, said: “During last year alone, we received 767 reports of attacks where air guns were used on animals across England and Wales.

Northwich Guardian:

“Animals are suffering horrendous injuries and often dying as a result of airgun attacks and these weapons are also potentially extremely dangerous for people.

“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.

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“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 airgun legislation as well as better, more targeted education and explanation of the law for those buying one.”

Northwich Guardian:

Nearly half of vets who replied to a British Veterinary Association survey in 2016 said they had treated cats which had been victims of airgun crime and nearly half those incidents had proved fatal.

A Government review into the use of airguns after the death of a boy concluded 18 months ago but has yet to report its conclusions and recommendations.

Dermot added: “Animals continue to be maimed and killed every year so the RSPCA is calling on the Government to bring in tighter restrictions such as licensing, which we know in Scotland worked, resulting in a 75 per cent drop in animal related complaints in its first year.”