BIRDWATCHERS have praised water giant United Utilities after they have announced a raft of measures to deter Canada geese from the area - without killing them.

The u-turn follows outrage over 60 birds being killed at the Lingley Mere site in Great Sankey during the breeding season in July this year.

As reported in the Warrington Guardian, animal lovers were appalled to hear the geese and goslings were culled overnight with more than 55,000 people signing a petition calling for the company to ‘pledge to never kill Canada geese again’.

Bosses said the cull was necessary as birds had bitten several staff members and claimed one woman had to visit her GP.

But after enlisting the help of animal rights group Animal Aid, bird lover David Kennedy, who was the first to raise awareness birds were being shot on the site and has since spearheaded the non-lethal measures campaign, has received assurances more humane solutions are now in place.

The company will begin by fencing off the lake to create a physical barrier and erecting signs to warn employees not to feed the geese.

Without access to the water and feed put down by well-meaning employees, many of the geese are likely to leave voluntarily but in an email to David, United Utilities head of sustainability Chris Matthews added a trial of a bad-tasting chemical, which is neither harmful to geese or humans, on an area of grass is also being considered.

A second wave of measures including electronic bird calling, installation of boons on the water, dog-walking, decoys and kites may also be used.

Campaigner David added: "Progress is often made when two sides are open minded enough to listen to each other’s arguments – and that's exactly what United Utilities has done on this issue.

"Culling is only ever a short-term, temporary fix, never a permanent answer to a problem.

"This shows that the rule holds true: where there's a will there's a way."

Animal Aid's head of campaigns Kate Fowler said she was thrilled with the outcome.

She added: "I’d like to publicly commend United Utilities for its progressive and compassionate approach to this issue.

"Where others have sometimes turned a deaf ear, this company has sought out information, listened to experts and acted quickly to devise and implement a humane policy with regards to the geese at Lingley Mere.

"We will remain on hand to help where required but in the meantime we extend our grateful thanks to Mr Matthews and his team."