Molly the Magpie reunited with ‘best friend’ Staffordshire terrier after being seized by wildlife authorities

Molly the magpie and Peggy the dog became fast friends  (@peggyandmolly/Instagram)
Molly the magpie and Peggy the dog became fast friends (@peggyandmolly/Instagram)

An Australian magpie has been reunited with a couple after it was surrendered to authorities over allegations it was being kept unlawfully.

Molly was returned to Juliette Wells and Reece Mortensen of Queensland after more than 150,000 people signed a petition demanding its return.

The bird was seized for six weeks in March after the Australian government ruled it was taken from the wild unlawfully with no permit, licence or authority following its rescue as a chick in 2020.

Ms Wells and Mr Mortensen said they were overwhelmed with emotion over the bird’s return in an Instagram post that gained more than 100,000 likes.

But it was returned with strict conditions barring the couple from profiting from the bird - in order for them to keep their wildlife carer’s licence.

Those conditions require the couple to undertake training, provide evidence of Molly’s well-being and make “no ongoing commercial gain” from the magpie.

The couple amassed more than 800,000 followers on the Instagram page, which features whimsical pictures and videos of the magpie interacting with their Staffordshire terrier.

Before Molly’s return, Ms Wells and Mr Mortensen admitted to Australia’s ABC News that they had profited from Molly, though they suggested they had not made very much.

“My intention was not to make money,” Ms Wells said. “It’s not about that.” “We can’t make a living on the money that’s been made - definitely not,” Mr Mortensen added.

A post promoting the book - Peggy & Molly: Be Kind, Be Humble, Be Happy - remains pinned at the top of the duo’s Instagram page.

Previously, Queensland premier Steven Miles intervened and said it would be a “victory for common sense” if authorities returned Molly.

Speaking on Molly’s return, Mr Miles said: “Molly has received excellent care during this time, and I’m told has been in great spirits throughout.

“I know how strongly people have felt about this - thank you again to everyone who has been in touch about it.”

Australian magpies - which can live up to 30 years - are a protected native species and are considered vital to the nation’s ecosystem. They are named after their resemblance to the Eurasian magpie.