Birds are being shot and killed by what is thought to be a BB gun or catapult, residents fear.

A number of animals have been found with pellet wounds in recent days.

And residents have reported seeing groups of youths with either BB guns or catapults in various parts of town including the New Mills estate and near the railway.

Lara Sysum, who helps to rescue wildlife that has been found injured, said: “I’ve had reports coming in about kids hurting and killing birds.

“I’ve had two casualties in now with pellet wounds, one which is so horrific the dove has lost its one eye. The other one is an ongoing process. 

“This was also happening a few years ago near where I live and I was finding lots of dead birds that had been stoned with slingshots. 

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“It’s so upsetting that kids are growing up this way and hurting innocent animals for fun. It’s also nesting season.

“A lot of birds will be badly injured but not killed so they suffer tremendously until they die. It’s horrific and not to mention illegal.

“I’m trying to get those who witness it to take photos and report it to the police.”

Another resident, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “I have to keep dogs on the lead as they keep finding dead birds.

“I’m not sure how they died but there were about four or five of them along there last week. I didn’t look too closely at them, it’s just unusual as I’ve never seen so many until recently.”

Ledbury police said they were aware of “community reports” of children with water pistols that haven’t been reported to the police.

And officers have witnessed children using catapults, but have received no reports of BB or imitation guns.

Inspector James Ashton said: “From a policing perspective, while we appreciate young people wish to have fun and play with water pistols etc in suitable areas and times, I would strongly urge anyone to avoid taking any item out in public which may be perceived to be a firearm.

“Aside from potential offences, the capacity for causing great alarm is real and can result in significant policing resources being dedicated to issues unnecessarily.”