In 2018 the RSPCA reported 767 animal injuries received from airgun pellets. The total figure includes 258 cats and 112 pigeons but also dogs, foxes and endangered birds.
In Bedfordshire alone there were nine airgun incidents.
Dermot Murphy, RSPCA Chief Inspectorate Officer told Bedford Today, “During last year alone, we received 767 reports of attacks where air guns were used on animals across England and Wales.
“Animals are suffering horrendous injuries and often dying as a result of airgun attacks and these weapons are also potentially extremely dangerous for people."
Last year the RSPCA renewed its demand that the government brings England into line with Scotland and Northern Ireland by enforcing the need for airgun owners to carry a licence.
Yet despite the association's fervent appeal, and the death of a young boy, airguns are still unlicensed.
“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,” adds CIO Murphy. “And the cruelty continues, with large numbers of wild mammals and birds, including foxes, squirrels, swans, gulls and pigeons targeted as well.”
With days longer and the weather warmer the RSPCA has yet again lobbied parliament to ban the general use of airguns.
Poor Tinkerbell is being cared for by staff at our Putney Animal Hospital after suffering horrendous injuries caused by someone using an air gun: https://t.co/tFZDLoIBkD— RSPCA (England & Wales) (@RSPCA_official) February 3, 2018
Her shooting is sadly just one example demonstrating why we're calling for mandatory licensing of #airguns. pic.twitter.com/tQoLSihAdt
“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,” said Murphy.
“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.”
Since 2004 it has been illegal to sell or by other means acquire an airgun that uses a self-contained gas cartridge. All other airguns are legal to own and shoot.