Nottinghamshire has one of the highest number of airgun attacks on animals in the country, according to shocking new figures.
In 2017, there were 29 airgun reports to the RSPCA in Nottinghamshire, making it equal with Essex and beaten only by Kent, which comes top of the counties with 51 reports last year.
The charity is now calling for mandatory licensing of airguns in England and Wales, as it is revealed it received 4,500 calls in five years about attacks on animals using such weapons. It will be giving the recommendation as part of a submission to the Government’s current review of the regulation of air weapons following the death of a 13-year-old boy who was accidentally shot with an airgun in 2016.
David Bowles, RSPCA assistant director of external affairs, said: “The review around the regulation of air weapons is welcomed by the RSPCA and we hope our submission to the Government will help demonstrate the scale of calls to us every year and remind the Government it is important to protect animals as well as people.
“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.
“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.”
The latest figures show the most calls to the RSPCA reporting airgun attacks on animals in 2017 came from the West Midlands - with 54.
The RSPCA has received, on average, 900 calls a year since 2013 reporting incidents of animals being targeted by people using air weapons and is calling for England and Wales to follow the lead of Scotland, where airgun owners and users have been required to have a licence since 1 January 2017.
In 2017 the RSPCA received calls alleging attacks on 519 wild birds, 341 cats, 125 wild mammals and 111 dogs, amongst others.
To report an attack on an animal, call the national cruelty line 0300 1234 999.