THE RSPCA has condemned the "completely senseless" shooting of two herring gulls in an airgun attack in Bridgwater.

The injured birds were discovered in the gardens of two properties in Friarn Avenue.

One had been shot in the wing and was already dead when the charity’s animal rescue officer Alison Sparkes attended the area last Monday night (June 13).

The second gull had a wound to the upper chest area and was so badly injured it had to be put down to prevent further suffering.

X-rays taken at the RSPCA’s West Hatch Wildlife Centre confirmed both birds had been shot with an airgun, with pellets clearly visible on the scans.

Gulls, their eggs and their nests are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and it is illegal to intentionally kill, take or injure them, except under licence.

Alison said: “Both birds appear to have been deliberately shot and sustained horrible injuries as a result.

“Sadly, completely senseless attacks like this are not an uncommon occurrence for RSPCA officers and it beggars belief that people are callously targeting animals in this way with absolutely no regard for the suffering these weapons cause.

“Finding animals who have been subjected to cruelty like this is upsetting, and we’re extremely grateful to the homeowner who alerted us about this situation.

“It’s very worrying that people are taking pot shots at birds like this in a residential area."

Anyone with information should contact the RSPCA’s inspectorate appeal line on 0300 123 8018.

Last year the RSPCA received 454 calls about animals being shot, injured or killed with air guns, although the charity believes some cases may go unreported and there are likely to be situations where animals who have been injured or killed are never found.

Cats and wildlife are normally the animals most susceptible to attacks because they are out in the open with no one to protect them.

The RSPCA wants stricter regulations around owning an air weapon in England and Wales.

Better education, basic safety training for owners and a thorough explanation of the law - including legal obligations towards animals - could help protect countless pets and wildlife from these horrible attacks in the future.

To help the RSPCA continue rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming animals in desperate need of care please visit its website or call the donation line on 0300 1238181.