A charity is calling for tougher restrictions on owning an airgun after worrying figures show an increase in the number of animals shot.
The the total number of reports of animals being shot with airguns in Derbyshire was 85 between 2012 and June this year.
The charity is fearful these kid of cruel attacks may be on the rise with more 470 calls about such incidents nationwide in the first six months of the year, compared to 455 during the same period in 2016.
The RSPCA is backing calls for stricter regulations around the use of airguns, following the introduction of legislation in Scotland which now means that anyone with an airgun must have a licence.
Dermot Murphy, assistant director of the RSPCA Inspectorate, said: “It is a depressing fact that every year hundreds of victims of airgun attacks are reported to the RSPCA. While wild animals are often victims, the most targeted animal is domestic cats that often suffer fatal or life-changing injuries.
“We receive hundreds of calls from devastated cat owners every year after they discover their beloved pets have been shot. Often it isn’t until the x-rays reveal the pellets still lodged in the animal’s body that it becomes clear what they have been subjected to. It often leaves the victim with life-changing injuries. In some tragic instances, the injuries even prove fatal.
“It is difficult to understand how anyone could carry out these mindless attacks on innocent animals and we are backing calls for stricter regulations around owning an airgun.”
By far the highest number of the 4,828 airgun incidents reported to the RSPCA between January 1 2012 and June 30 2017 were about wild birds (2,003) and cats (1,814). This is followed by wild mammals (349), dogs (345) and farm birds (104).