A BEAUTY spot near Leeds was cordoned off so that environment officials could kill a flock of geese on the orders of Leeds Bradford Airport.
Around 10 Canada Geese were shot at Yeadon Tarn by officers from the Food and Environment Research Agency.
In a joint statement, the agency, airport and Leeds Council said the birds were killed because they posed “a significant risk to the aircraft”.
But residents have protested about the incident, which took place under the cover of darkness and without warning, and have posted “murdered” posters around the area.
They say the geese have always been regular visitors to Yeadon Tarn and they have never been aware of any shootings in the past.
Local resident Ruth Humphreys, 50, said: “I was very angry, I didn’t sleep last night at all.
“I’m passionate about animals so I was really upset, I was like a headless chicken. How could they do it?”
It is believed that Food and Environment Research Agency officials cordoned off the lake, which is popular with runners and dog walkers, at around 5am on Thursday, with some residents hearing gun shots in the night.
Valerie Cotton, from Horsforth, was denied access to Yeadon Tarn while the cull took place.
She said: “What have the wildlife done wrong? A lot of people are very upset, people around the town take their children to go and feed the geese around there.
“It’s absolute devastation, people are making posters and putting them up in memory of them.”
A spokesman for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds said Canada Geese could be culled legally if they were causing a threat to agriculture or health and safety.
He said: “They are recognised as being one of the major air-strike risks around airports.”
The statement from the council, airport and Food and Environment Research Agency said: “This flock of Canada Geese poses a significant risk to the aircraft flying in and out of Leeds Bradford International Airport.
“Up to 100 Canada Geese have been recorded regularly crossing the runway as they fly to and from Yeadon Tarn.”
The statement said that the cull was carried out within the constraints of UK law and the Natural England General Licence for preserving air safety.