Public alert after 'cruel' blow dart attack in park

Anyone with information is urged to contact the RSPCA.

RSPCA Queensland is calling for public assistance to find those responsible for shooting a blow dart through a native bird’s throat.

X-rays show the projectile entered the masked lapwing through the right side of its neck and pushed through the other side. The bird is lucky to be alive.

The unfortunate creature was found on February 2 at Chambers Flat park, south of Brisbane, and it’s in this suburb the RSPCA believes it was shot.

Left - an X-ray of the plover with the dart in its neck. Right - close up of the plover with the dart in its neck.
A plover was rescued after a dart was shot through its neck. Source: RSPCA

Inspector Wayne Hodder has warned the RSPCA and the wider community will not tolerate animal cruelty, lamenting that kangaroos and reptiles have also been shot with darts in separate incidents.

Anyone with information about people using blow darts in the area are urged to contact the RSPCA on 1300 ANIMAL (1300 264 625).

Masked lapwings targeted in Australia due to unfair reputation

Masked lapwings, also known as plovers, have an unjustified reputation for being aggressive. Like magpies, nesting parents are known to swoop, but they seldom make contact with humans.

Left - side view of the plover with the dart in its neck. Right - the plover feeding from a syringe.
The plover was cared for by veterinary staff and the dart was removed. Source: RSPCA

Adult bonded pairs nest on the ground, leaving their chicks vulnerable to predators. As a result parent birds frequently use bluff to drive away potential threats who enter their nesting zone.

Dedicated plovers have been observed sitting on their nests during heavy snow and many Australians appreciate their parenting skills. In 2019, Gold Coast residents were angered after chicks were removed from a school oval by a licensed rescuer because staff feared the parents could harm students.

Sadly, the birds are also sometimes illegally targeted with weapons despite them being a protected species.

In a separate incident in 2020 at Woodford, north of Brisbane, a masked lapwing was shot through the chest with an arrow. Last year a veteran wildlife carer was driven to tears after a nest full of eggs was crushed at a construction site in NSW.

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