MORE than 100 animals were shot last year in the south east.

A total of 126 animals were shot with air guns last year in the region, new figure from the RSPCA have revealed with the findings showing that 18 of these cases were from Hampshire.

The animal charity received 7671 reports of animals being shot in 2018 across England and Wales.

The RSPCA’s records also showed that pet cats bore the brunt of the shootings with 258 incidents with pigeons coming second with 112 incidents.

Now, the charity is calling for the licensing of air guns as incidents rise during summer months, when there are more daylight hours.

As well as mandatory licensing, the RSPCA is calling for a range of measures to tackle the problem of air guns.

Dermot Murphy, RSPCA chief inspectorate officer, said: “During last year alone, we received 767 reports of attacks where air guns were used on animals across England and Wales.

“Animals are suffering horrendous injuries and often dying as a result of airgun attacks and these weapons are also potentially extremely dangerous for people.

“Every one of the 258 pet cats and 73 dogs deliberately killed or maimed last year by people using air guns represents a devastated family.

“And the cruelty continues, with large numbers of wild mammals and birds, including foxes, squirrels, swans, gulls and pigeons targeted as well.

“We believe air gun misuse is happening on a large scale and what we see at the RSPCA could be the tip of the iceberg.

“We believe that stricter controls are long overdue.

“Mandatory licensing would be an effective start, but we also need improved enforcement of airgun legislation as well as better, more targeted education and explanation of the law for those buying one.”

Nearly half of vets who replied to a British Veterinary Association survey in 2016 said they had treated cats which had been victims of airgun crime and nearly half those incidents had proved fatal.

A total of 258 cats were reported as shot in England and Wales last year as well as; as well as 112 pigeons; 73 dogs; 62 gulls; and 28 foxes.