A DOZEN geese that defecated near a driving range have been shot by golf club owners gearing up to take down more of the feathered ‘pests’.

In a message to its member West Essex Golf Club, in Chingford, announced plans to launch an ‘aggressive campaign’ to shoot Canada geese pecking and dropping faeces on the course’s grass.

The migratory birds have been flocking on to the club’s land for the past three years.

Dennis Swaine, club chairman, said: “We couldn't just let them be because they carry all these diseases in their faeces.

“When people are picking their balls up they are contaminating themselves with the faeces.

“They also do a lot of damage to the putting surface. Canada goose are a well known pest, they are almost the same as vermin. These birds attack people.

“If it were rats making their homes around the golf course people would have no problem.

“This is a putting surface that needs to be kept in very good condition.”

Since arriving this winter, previously employed scare tactics have failed to shift the geese from the fairway.

“The decision was taken that the most humane method was to employ a licensed hunter to shoot them,” Mr Swaine added.

“He has shot a dozen so far. Most of the other birds have got out of the line of fire pretty fast.”

Officials have gone out of their way to protect other animals in recent years, including snakes and a pair of Egyptian geese, which the club built a nesting island for.

Regardless, news of the cull has been met with disgust from numerous quarters.

Oliver Donovan, of Loughton, said: “I think bird poo on the local golf course is a small price to pay for the local ecology.

“I would choose life over leisure.”

Canada geese can be shot if they are damaging property, but under guidelines must be killed humanely.

Writing on Facebook Ann Marston added: “Horrible. For goodness sake, surely they fly off when people approach.

“I hope that someone realises that a few people playing a game is not worth killing for.”

Responding to the criticism, Mr Swaine argued the decision had not been taken lightly.

He said: “I would expect that most people understand we don’t just cull wildlife without consideration of why we have to do it.

“Shooting parties go out every weekend and kill for fun. We are not doing it for fun.”