Gunmen are killing geese for 'fun' in front of children near Rodley Nature Reserve, Leeds villagers say
Shooters are exploiting their licence to kill geese "for the fun of it" near a west Leeds beauty spot, villagers claim.
Residents in Rodley and Horsforth held a protest this weekend following months of concerns that people are killing Canada geese for sporting purposes.
Some 12 geese were killed, and another left badly wounded and distressed in the Leeds Liverpool Canal on Saturday.
The shooting of geese is legal, provided the land owner has a licence and that it is part of a cull for agricultural purposes after all alternative methods have been tried.
But villagers around Rodley Nature Reserve claim this law is being exploited by gunmen luring geese onto areas of land adjacent to the reserve with decoys, and shooting them merely for leisure purposes.
One resident, Matthew Hooper, said he has seen geese "dropping from the sky" from his kitchen window, while gunmen have been seen to shoot geese by children at a nearby tea room.
Matthew, 46, who lives in nearby Horsforth, said: "It started at the beginning of September when we all received flyers through the post saying there would be a cull of Canada geese.
"The claim is that goose faeces is toxic if it gets into the food chain through grazing cows, but we have looked into this and it is very debatable. Particularly as the cows are mainly kept indoors at this time of year.
"Sometimes, I can see the geese falling from the sky from my kitchen window.
"They are being shot near to the Tiny Tea Rooms on the canal where there are kids sitting.
"Our problem is not that they're shooting geese - we are not nimbys - our problem is where they are shooting them and that it is all so unnecessary.
"There are plenty of alternative solutions for culling geese which are more humane."
A protest was held on Sunday afternoon outside the Tiny Tea Rooms on the Leeds Liverpool Canal, which was joined by newly re-elected MP Stuart Andrew.
Matthew added: "We are willing to put money up and even scare the geese off the land ourselves to get rid of them, if that's what the problem is.
"One resident even offered to put in £1,000 to fund a solution to the problem. That is how passionate we are about this.
"We think it's appalling that they are shooting right next to a nature reserve where wildlife is supposed to be protected."
A West Yorkshire Police spokesperson said: "We are aware of concerns in the community in relation to licensed geese culling in the area. We are liaising with our partner agencies and will continue to monitor the situation."
In a statement published on its website, Rodley Nature Reserve said the shooting was taking place on land adjacent to the reserve, of which it has no control over.
It said it had no evidence that any illegal shooting of geese had taken place on the reserve.
"We would take any necessary action if we had clear evidence he was breaking the law," the statement added.