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Air gun attacks on animals to reach five-year high
The most targeted animals of air gun attacks are domestic cats.
Most targeted animals are domestic cats

Britain’s biggest animal charity is backing calls for tougher legislation on weapons.

The RSPCA says that it received more than 470 calls about such incidents in the first six months of the year, compared to 455 during the same period in 2016.

“It is a depressing fact that every year hundreds of victims of air gun 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,” commented Dermot Murphy, assistant director of the RSPCA Inspectorate.

“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.”
 
He continues: “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 air gun. 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.”

In 2016, the RSPCA received 890 calls to its 24-hour cruelty hotline reporting air gun attacks. But the charity expects this to be topped in 2017, with 471 calls received by the RSPCA by the end of June and six months left of the year.

“July and August, when the days are longer and people are out and about more, are typically some of the busiest months for RSPCA inspectors investigating incidents of animals shot by people using air gun,” said Dermot.

The highest number of the 4,828 air gun incidents reported to the RSPCA between 1 January 2012 and 30 June 2017 were about wild birds (2,003) and cats (1,814). This is followed by wild mammals (349), dogs (345) and farm birds (104).

The penalties faced if caught deliberately using an air gun to injure an animal can be up to six months in prison and/or a £20,000 fine if found guilty under the Animal Welfare Act.
 
Legislation in Scotland and Northern Ireland requires anyone who possesses, purchases or uses an air weapon to have a licence. The RSPCA is backing a petition launched by Cats Protection to extend this legislation to England and Wales.

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Endangered turtles rescued from smugglers

News Story 1
 A group of endangered turtles have found a new home at London Zoo after being rescued from smugglers.

The four big-headed turtles arrived at the zoo at the end of last year, after smugglers tried to illegally import them to Canada, labelled as toys.

One of the turtles, named Lady Triệu after a Vietnamese warrioress, has moved to a new exhibit in the zoo’s reptile house. She is the only one of her kind in a UK zoo.

Big-headed turtles have such large heads that they cannot pull them back into their shells. To compensate, they have armour plating from head to tail and a very sharp beak to fend off predators. They are ranked number 18 on ZSL’s EDGE of Existence reptile list, which puts threatened species at the forefront of conservation action. Image © ZSL  

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RCVS Fellowship board chair elections get underway

Voting for the 2019 RCVS Fellowship Chair election is now underway. This year four candidates are standing for election, including Dr Robert Huey, Professor John Innes, Professor Liz Mossop and Professor Ian Ramsey.

The Chair will attend and preside over Fellowship meetings and take the lead in consolidating the Fellowship’s position as the learned society of the RCVS. Fellows will receive an email containing a link to the online voting form, as well as candidates’ details and manifestos. Voting closes at 5pm on Thursday, 5 September.