A PETITION calling on water giant United Utilities to never kill Canada geese at their headquarters in Great Sankey again has now reached more than 52,000 signatures.

Animal lovers expressed their outrage online after the Warrington Guardian revealed earlier this month 60 birds were culled overnight following claims staff had been bitten and bird poo was ‘damaging the environment’.

Keen birdwatcher David Kennedy said bosses at Lingley Mere had taken the ‘easiest option’ killing the birds and it was ‘particularly cruel’ to take action when goslings had just been born.

And people from around the world have been agreeing with him a ‘non-lethal’ plan was needed in the future after he set up a petition on the ‘Care 2’ petition site.

Tarasmum commented on our website: “I wonder how much a 'bite' from a Canada goose hurts...Utter tripe and just an excuse for a cruel cull.”

While Howley resident Neil Ryding said he wished an announcement was made beforehand after he started a petition to halt a planned cull on Windemere in the Lake District.

He added: “It shows how alternatives can be used rather than this barbaric culling.

“I don't know how we can call ourselves civilised with things like this taking place and shame on United Utilities.”

Animal rights group Animal Aid, who described the culling as an ‘extreme and absurd over-reaction’, have since sent United Utilities a list of specialists in the field of goose control using non-lethal deterrents.

We asked what the water company plans to do if birds nest on the site again and whether or not they will be encouraged to nest on site again?

Chris Matthews, head of sustainability at United Utilities, said: “Several Canada geese remain on site, which is in line with the numbers recommended in a previous independent consultancy report.

“The total numbers at Lingley Mere had reached unsustainable levels, beyond the lake’s natural capacity to cope.

“We have been and will continue to put benign mitigation measures in place to help control the numbers and to work towards a more balanced environment.

“We are planning to review the current mitigation measures to identify if there are further humane steps we can take in the future.”