Just imagine what it would be like to be shot at by a callous thug armed with an airgun, and hit in the head and neck no less than 14 times.
That is the plea from SSPCA chief Mike Flynn, who is flagging up sick attacks on swans – including an instance of horrific cruelty in Cumbernauld – as a compelling reason to licence airguns.
Legislation to control airguns is currently in process at the Scottish Parliament, and while an outright ban on the weapons won’t happen the SSPCA is adding its weight to the call for licensing.
Against all odds female swan Edna, much loved by locals in West Lothian was brutally targeted along with her partner, Eck, who was found with four pellets inside him.
Their cygnet escaped unharmed, although he was visibly terrified after watching his parents being shot at so many times. Another family of swans had been the target of an airgun attack in Cumbernauld just two months earlier.
Mike Flynn said: “When our officers arrived at the scene they found a male bird covered in blood after being shot in the side of his head.
“An X-ray revealed an airgun pellet lodged in his spine and, due to the severity of his condition, he had to be put to sleep on veterinary advice.”
He added: “This was a particularly upsetting case as the swan’s partner and seven cygnets remained pining on the loch.
“It is appalling that animals are being targeted and caused such pain and suffering.
“Worryingly, many of the incidents reported to us have taken place in highly populated, residential areas.
“We also believe that many more airgun incidents go unreported because the bodies of the animals are never found.”
There are as many as half a million air weapons in Scotland, and the SSPCA says too many are getting into the wrong hands.
It means cat owners cannot be certain their pet will not be targeted by someone intent on causing pain and misery.
Mike Flynn said: “We welcome the Scottish Government’s plans to introduce an airgun licensing scheme, which would not ban airguns outright, but ensure they are only used responsibly and lawfully.”
He says if the law is passed it will send out a strong message that mindless acts of violence perpetrated by cruel thugs using airguns will not be tolerated.