More air gun attacks are reported to the RSPCA from Nottinghamshire than almost any other county.
The animal welfare charity has received an “alarming” number of reports about animals being targeted by air weapons and rifles over the last 18 months - despite lockdown and Covid-19 restrictions keeping people at home for long periods.
Since the beginning of 2020, 371 incidents have been reported to the RSPCA where the caller believed an air gun or rifle had been used to target an animal - including 17 in Nottinghamshire, ranking the county fourth for reports across England and Wales.
However, it is believed the total number of incidents will be substantially higher - as often a bullet or pellet is discovered after the RSPCA have intervened when an animal has been found in distress.
The bombshell figures are revealed as part of the RSPCA's summer 'Cancel Out Cruelty' campaign, which highlights the deliberate cruelty that too many animals continue to be subjected to across England and Wales. Findings have prompted the RSPCA to renew calls for greater regulation linked to the use of air guns - including better education for owners and a thorough explanation of the law.
Household pets, particularly cats, are often the victim of attacks.
The animal welfare charity has revealed the top five counties across England and Wales for incidents linked to air weapons - with Nottinghamshire reporting 17 incidents since 2020.
The problem has been an historic one in Nottinghamshire - and in 2019, an investigation was launched by the RSPCA after a duck was found to have been shot in the leg from an air gun attack in Newark.A member of the public came across the poor duck in March in Newton Street, when she noticed the bird was struggling to walk.
An RSPCA rescuer took the bird for veterinary treatment and it was discovered the duck had been shot in her thigh with an air gun. Fortunately, the duck - nicknamed Jemima Puddle Duck - survived the ordeal.
The RSPCA are calling for stricter regulations surrounding airgun use in England.
The RSPCA gets around 84,000 calls to its cruelty line every month and around 1,500 of those are about intentional cruelty. But the charity sees a rise in the summer by around 400 calls, on average, per month, which equates to 47 calls every day or two every hour.