'Horrific' seagull shootings prompt calls for air gun action

PUBLISHED: 09:00 25 June 2017

Seagull shootings have been reported in Highbridge.

Seagull shootings have been reported in Highbridge.

Archant

An RSPCA inspector wants to clamp down on air weapon ownership after a series of seagull shootings in Highbridge.

Inspector Hayley Lawrence was called to an industrial estate in Commerce Way three times last week to reports of gulls being shot with an air rifle.

The first gull was found with injuries caused by air gun pellets on June 3 before a second was found with a partially torn wing two days later.

A third was found near the same estate with a broken wing and leg injuries.

All three gulls had to be put to sleep due to the severity of their injuries.

Inspector Lawrence is fearful other animals may be targeted and has called for more stringent controls on air weapons to be introduced.

She said: “Unfortunately we regularly have to deal with injured or dead animals which have been shot by people using air rifles.

“The injuries caused by such attacks are horrific and often fatal.

“Cats and wildlife, particularly birds, are normally the animals that are more susceptible to these incidents simply because they are out in the open with no one to protect them.

“It is very distressing to think that people take pleasure in causing such horrific injuries to defenseless animals.

“People need to remember the devastating consequences that shooting at animals with air rifles can have.

“We are supporting Cats Protection’s call for tighter controls on air weapons.

“This, along with better education and explanation of the law when buying an air gun, and requirements that everyone must receive basic safety training before being allowed to walk out of the shop could help relieve the problem.

“We would also like to remind people that all wild birds in England and Wales are protected and anyone shooting birds without a licence could face up to six months in prison and/or a fine of up to £5,000 if found guilty under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.”

In 2016, the RSPCA’s 24-hour cruelty line had 890 calls relating to similar types of attack.

Anyone with information on the attacks is asked to call the RSPCA on 03001 238018.

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