RSPCA calls for airgun licensing after receiving 4,500 calls in five years - including 11 in Cambridgeshire throughout 2017

In 2016 a family was left devastated after their pet cat Barney was shot with a pellet gun.

In 2016 a family was left devastated after their pet cat Barney was shot with a pellet gun. - Credit: Archant

The RSPCA is calling for mandatory licensing of airguns in England and Wales after figures revealed the charity received 4,500 calls in five years about attacks on animals using such weapons.

In 2017 the RSPCA received calls alleging attacks on 519 wild birds, 341 cats, 125 wild mammals and 111 dogs - including 11 reports in Cambridgeshire.

While the highest number of calls came from the West Midlands, Kent and Greater London, there were 11 reports in Cambridgeshire.

The animal welfare charity will be giving the recommendations as part of a submission to the UK Government’s current review of the regulation of air weapons following two serious incidents involving children.

David Bowles, RSPCA assistant director of external affairs, said: “It is heartbreaking that such a tragic incident has sparked this review and our thoughts go out to Benjamin’s family and friends, but we hope that any future regulation of these weapons in England and Wales will better protect people and animals.

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“The RSPCA has long been calling for stricter controls over airguns as well as better education and explanation of the law for those buying one. Our 24-hour cruelty hotline receives hundreds of calls every year reporting airgun attacks on animals.

“Animals can suffer horrendous injuries and often die as a result of airgun attacks and these weapons are potentially extremely dangerous for people as well.”

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The penalties faced if caught using an airgun to injure an animal can be up to six months in prison and an unlimited fine if found guilty under the Animal Welfare Act.

Legislation in Scotland and Northern Ireland requires anyone who possesses purchases or uses an air weapon to have a licence.

The RSPCA and British Association for Shooting & Conservation plan to stage a joint conference this spring to bring together key stakeholders from industry, the police, animal charities and more to try to identify the scale of the problem and find practical solutions.

If you want to report an incident, including when an animal has been shot or targeted by someone using an airgun, call the RSPCA’s national cruelty line on 0300 1234 999.

Incidents should contact the RSPCA’s national cruelty line on 0300 1234 999.

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