Air rifle pet attack crackdown

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A NEW crackdown has been launched against airgun-toting yobs who are taking pot shots at Wigan borough pets and wild animals.

Police today warned they will prosecute the snipers, stressing that the use of air rifles in public spaces is both dangerous and illegal.

Air weapons being carried in public must be covered at all times, and anyone carrying one under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult of 21 or over.

While it is not illegal to use air rifles on private land, shooters must have the landowner’s permission and ensure pellets do not stray beyond the boundary.

Those aged under 14 should also be supervised by someone aged 21 or over. The police’s stance on air rifles is being backed by Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust - which owns and maintains many of the borough’s parks and open spaces - and also Wigan Council.

Both organisations condemned the recent incidents which have seen animals targeted in parks, but reassured the public incidents involving air rifles remain rare.

Pete Alker, parks officer for Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust, said: “There is simply no place for this sort of activity in any of our parks and public open spaces.”

Sally Wolstencroft, Wigan Council’s Head of Safer, Cleaner and Greener, added: “While some gun enthusiasts may simply be unaware of their legal responsibilities, for instance in ensuring air rifles remain covered in a public places, recent local cases suggest others are openly flouting the law.

“Sadly, there is also a small minority of gun users who consider inflicting pain on wildlife as some kind of sick sport.

“We mirror the concern of other public agencies in the borough and will support the police in their crackdown against this mindless cruelty.”

Any incidents of firearms’ being used in public should be reported to the police on the non-emergency number 101 or anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.