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Nottinghamshire had the highest number of calls in 2017 for air gun attacks on animals in the region, according to new figures from the RSPCA.

The county is also the sixth highest in the UK for calls on air gun attacks on animals, having reportedly received 29 calls in 2017.

The figures come as the animal charity calls for mandatory licensing of air guns in England and Wales, after receiving, on average, 900 calls a year since 2013 reporting incidents of animals being targeted by people using air weapons.

Scotland has already seen the regulations imposed on air gun owners and users since 2017, and the RSPCA is calling on the Government to ‘protect animals as well as people’.

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.

“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.

“Animals can suffer horrendous injuries and often die as a result of air gun attacks and these weapons are potentially extremely dangerous for people as well.”

The Government has already been encouraged to review legislation covering the use and manufacture of air weapons, after 13-year-old Ben Wragge from Suffolk was accidentally killed by a homemade air rifle in May 2016, but the RSPCA is encouraging the legislation to cover animals as well.

“It’s 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.”

If caught deliberately using an air gun to injure an animal, offenders can expect to serve up to six months in prison and/or an unlimited fine if found guilty under the Animal Welfare Act.