Residents told of their fear after they were woken by gunshots fired in the early morning to cull geese near a residential area in Stoke-on-Trent.
People living near Longton Park said they heard the shots being fired at about 0530 BST on Thursday.
One woman told BBC News she found it "very frightening".
The city council has apologised to anyone who was distressed by the shooting noise.
Jane Forshaw, the council's head of environmental services said police had been informed beforehand of the planned cull.
She said: "Culling work is necessary as the birds inflict damage to other animals' habitats and cause a nuisance and potential health problem with their droppings.
"The work is carried out by a contractor who is licensed to cull geese and they do use recognised control measures."
A council contractor which carried out the culling said it was necessary to do the culling at that time as the parks were closed to the public.
Police said they had received some calls from members of the public but had been able to inform them about the culling.