More culling of geese to ensure the safety of planes at Leeds-Bradford International Airport cannot be ruled out in future, an airport chief has said.

Carl Lapworth, the airport’s operations and engineering director, said urgent action was needed from time to time and he stressed that it was not possible to rule out future culls.

Mr Lapworth, who has recently met residents protesting against the killing of geese at Yeadon Tarn last year, said that the airport already had a habitat management plan to stop birds becoming a safety hazard to planes.

He said measures such as egg picking were already in place – but sometimes it was necessary to react quickly to a particular problem.

Mr Lapworth said that the airport had to order the killing of some of the geese last year because of a threat to safety as a number of geese were flying from the Tarn across the airport.

He said: “The fundamental risk is what happened in New York a number of years ago with an aircraft that hit a flock of geese that forced it down into the harbour.

“The issue with geese is that they don’t just fly on their own – they flock together.”

Mr Lapworth stressed that the airport already used tactics to scare the geese away and had a duty to ensure safety.

“We have got to be prepared if suddenly a flock of geese descend and set up a roost somewhere in the locality, and then decide to fly across the airport,” he said. “We have got to be able to deal with that.”

Local people put up RIP notices after ten geese were killed around the Tarn last year and several more were culled nearby in a later incident.

Protesters argue that the geese have lived at Yeadon Tarn for many years without it being deemed necessary to kill them, and they say more humane methods should be found.

Food and Environment Research Agency officers shot the flock last year, after it was deemed “a significant risk to aircraft”.