A SCOTS police force launched a full scale armed response – including scrambling a force helicopter – after getting reports of gunmen armed with rifles on the loose.
But when Strathclyde officers swooped on the scene they discovered two men had been shooting rabbits.
The scare was prompted by reports of two men running riot with guns at a Drumpellier Country Park, Coatbridge, North Lanarkshire.
Patrol cars and the force’s helicopter scrambled to the area but found the “gunmen” were pest controllers and had licences for their weapons.
Local media reported that the incident happened on the golf course which is part of the estate.
The dramatic incident is likely to have cost taxpayers thousands of pounds, as the helicopter alone thought to cost in the region of £1,500 an hour to keep in the air.
A spokeswoman for Strathclyde police said: “We were called to respond to a report of two people in Drumpellier Country Park with firearms but it was discovered that they lawful firearms licence holders and they were engaged in lawful pest control.
“Strathclyde Police have their own helicopter and it was called out as we were using all available resources.”
Last year a man was jailed for two years for pointing a toy gun at the police.
John Bravin was arrested after pointing the black gun, belonging to his eight-year-old brother, at officers who attended his home in Edinburgh to deal with a disturbance.
In 2006 police chiefs warned that air guns were causing an increasing number of armed call-outs.
A spokesman for the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland said: “There have been times when armed response units have rushed out only to find a kid with a BB gun.”