TRIGGER-happy thugs have declared it "open season" on birds along the Clayton-le-Moors section of the Leeds-Liverpool Canal for the second year running.
Residents are up in arms after birds were found dead with gunshot wounds.
It follows a series of incidents last year when ducks, geese and other species of bird were found dead in the water.
Residents say the killings have started happening again, with yobs targeting the canal during the evening.
Former councillor Jack Cooper said: "They are shooting them left, right and centre. There are more killings now than there were last year.
"There have been more dead ducks found in the water. It is now the breeding season and the area is supposed to be a protected wildlife corridor."
One resident, who did not want to be named, said: "After a spate of shootings and killings last May the bird population on the canal increased and most of them survived the winter.
"But now we seem to be suffering a repeat of last year. A number of bird corpses have been found in the canal. This has led to many surviving birds leaving the area.
"I have seen half a dozen dead pigeons, a few ducks and a crow, and I think some of the moor hens have been killed as well.
"They are normally territorial birds and they tend to stay in the same area all their lives.
"The laws relating to air guns are wishy-washy. Air guns are expensive and children don't just buy them to shoot at jam jars."
A police spokesman said: "There have been reports of a youth going down there dressed in combat gear with an air weapon.
"If anyone is caught with a loaded air weapon then we have the power to arrest him. Also, under the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003, we can arrest anyone who is carrying an air rifle in a public place."