Calgary police officers say they are using valuable resources to respond to firearms reports involving fake guns.

"Just last week we had a call of someone shooting a rifle, a military assualt rifle in the Nose Creek area. Because it's a big open area, there were 12 to 15 officers assigned to deal with that call," said Inspector Mike Tillotson.

Officers were joined by the K-9 unit and the police helicopter for more than an hour, only to learn the gun was not real, said Tillotson.

Police are receiving several calls a week involving air-powered, pellet and BB guns, as well as seeing them used more in robberies.

It's a public safety concern said Tillotson because, from a distance, it is difficult to tell whether someone is holding a real or fake gun. "Because of the reality and the quality of the pellet guns these days, it seems like there are more of these calls that we're responding to. If we believe it to be a real gun we have to treat it like it is."

Any gun or replica gun used in committing an offence, is treated as a firearm under the criminal code.

Police add it is a bylaw offence to fire any weapon within city limits or to transport an air-powered weapon with ammunition in the chamber.

The fine can be up to $1,000.