'Magpie killers': Swooping bird culled by council despite plea to spare it

·News and Video Producer
·3-min read

A swooping magpie has been killed by authorities in Sydney’s north, ignoring calls for the bird to be spared.

Details of the incident were revealed today by Lane Cove Council who said the male member, of what were believed to be a bonded pair, had been culled.

While they had a permit to kill the female also, experts maintain it is only males who usually attack and her life was spared. 

Lane Cove Council has confirmed it has killed a magpie which had been swooping residents. Source: Getty / File
Lane Cove Council has confirmed it has killed a magpie which had been swooping residents. Source: Getty / File

Despite a planned review of a National Parks and Wildlife (NPWS) policy that prevents the relocation of aggressive birds due by the end of year, council moved ahead with killing the magpie because it had attacked people.

Images shared by authorities last month show a number of people bleeding, and eight injuries had been reported by residents around Johnston Crescent and Tantallon Road.

Council says cull will not set precedent

Last week, University of New England’s Professor Gisela Kaplan said that aggressive magpies can be taught to be placid, and usually only become aggressive when antagonised by humans.

With magpies only swooping on average for four weeks a year, she had called on council to find a non-lethal alternative, and thousands had signed online petitions calling for the same.

Lane Cove Council is yet to respond to requests for comment from Yahoo News Australia concerning the NSPWS review or Professor Kaplan’s advice, but issued a statement online.

“Rest assured this solution has not set a precedent in Lane Cove and was only sought as a last resort following an increasing number of injuries to residents where the bird’s aggression has drawn blood,” the council said in an online statement.

“Council appreciates the wide ranging empathy and passion to protect our native wildlife and welcomes any updates the NPWS has to its policy and processes.”

It said relocating the bird was always the council's preference, but added that the NPWS do not permit the relocation of native birds under its current policy due to the 'low chance of survival post relocation'. 

How the magpie swooping saga unfolded

Critics slam council decision to kill magpie

Dominique Miller, who works in Lane Cove and was familiar with the magpies, had been campaigning to stop the cull, knew avoiding this outcome was “unlikely”.

He said he is hopeful the NPWS review will result in non-lethal options being offered for birds which show aggression towards people.

Animal Justice Party MP Emma Hurst, who had been a vocal critic of the plan said she cannot understand why Council went ahead with the kill.

“Killing animals because they are 'inconvenient' is atrocious. There is simply no excuse,” she said.

Accusing the council of having “failed animals” and the community, she urged residents to “remember this appalling decision” at the next election.

“Lane Cove Council will always be remembered as the magpie killers,” she added.

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