A WILDLIFE enthusiast from Torryburn said it's "an absolute joke" that people are allowed to walk past a playpark with shotguns and go and blast birds on a nature reserve.

Fraser Hynd said he witnessed three men heading down Shore Road on Thursday afternoon, past walkers and cyclists, and gunning down geese on the foreshore.

He said the wildfowling took place at Torry Bay around 4.30pm, next to the Fife Coastal Path – and the Press has been told it's perfectly legal.

Mr Hynd said: "I've lived here for 15 years and I walk along the shore four or five times a week, it's a place of sanctuary, for exercise and peace and quiet.

"Thursday was a beautiful day and there were thousands of geese, an incredible scene.

"Then these guys in full camouflage gear and big shotguns wander down to the shore and start taking pot-shots."

He continued: "What an absolute joke to allow people to wander through a populated area, into a nature reserve, and start shot-gunning birds for their own fun.

"Nothing environmental about it, no safety for the walkers and locals.

"I'm disgusted that within a progressive society in Scotland that this is permitted, especially so close to a children's playpark and general walking area for the locals."

Mr Hynd, 51, who works in the whisky industry, said there were young children, mums with buggies and older people out enjoying the autumn sunshine at the time.

"I never did a survey but probably at least 90 per cent of them came to see the water, the birds, get some fresh air; I doubt anyone wanted to hear a shotgun blast from less than 100 yards away.

"I find it unbelievable. Someone said to me it's legal but just because something is legal, doesn't make it right.

"People challenge old and outdated laws all the time.

"It beggars belief that any council would deem this acceptable."

He continued: "What does it say to anyone that sees this? Will kids want a gun because they've seen someone shooting and think it looks like fun?

"I've no problem with shooting in farmers' fields, when it's for agricultural reasons, protecting jobs and crops, but that's a different argument.

"They're shooting birds on the foreshore for fun, in a public place that's well used by young and old, in a wildlife nature reserve.

"And I'm not against anyone having fun but when it's affecting other people, you have to ask if that's acceptable."

Torry Bay is a local nature reserve within a Site of Special Scientific Interest and "has international status for wading and wintering bird life".

Fife Coast and Countryside Trust don't own the site but manage the Fife Coastal Path that runs through it and have taken part in community consultations on the issue.

James Dawson, head of communities and engagement at the trust, said: "We are aware this is a sensitive subject for many people but providing wildfowlers follow best practice, it is legal and it is regulated.

"These regulations control the shooting of some species by only permitting wildfowling at certain times of year and prevent shooting of vulnerable species."

Mr Dawson said shooters needed to show understanding and respect for other users, and the trust will put up a sign at Torry Bay car park to raise awareness.

"We are hoping that clear interpretation at the site that explains the right to shoot on the foreshore and best practice to wildfowlers will help the situation," he added.

"It is clear that on the whole, wildfowlers in the area are responsible users following best practice, with many contacting the police prior to shooting at the site.

"That being said, if members of the public do witness a wildlife crime in the area, we strongly urge them to contact Police Scotland and report it."