Aussie Police Refuse to Execute Dive-Bombing Bird

Photo: Mountain/\Ash / cc

If you've never crossed paths with a magpie, Australia's iconic black and white bird, then consider yourself fortunate. They may look harmless enough, cute even, but every year the species rain terror from above by dive-bombing anyone who dare venture too close to their nesting grounds. Recently, a father reported that his teenage daughter had been swooped upon by one of the bad-tempered birds, prompting officials to order its execution. But thanks to the public outcry in the animal's defense, and a strike of conscience on the part of police, the meanly-maternal magpie will fly another day.If it seems like an overreaction by wildlife authorities in New South Wales, Australia, to have the bird blown-away for defending its nesting grounds, it might be important to note that magpies are no nightingales. According to The Courier-Mail, magpies aren't merely out to buzz by anyone they consider a threat, they aim to do some real damage; each nesting season at least one person loses an eye to the birds pointed beaks, experts say. Last year, a 12-year-old boy was killed when magpies chased him into oncoming traffic.

To get a sense of how aggressive they can be, this video from The Courier-Mail offers a peek at magpie attacks:

So when George Croft's teenage daughter got a peck in the head from a magpie on her way home from school, it became a cause for concern among the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), who sent police out to investigate with orders to shoot the bird -- but the officers refused to kill the animal which was acting purely on its highly-defensive instincts. And when the public caught wind of the execution order, the NPWS was forced to consider a more humane approach, by either relocating the bird or putting up signs warning the public that they may be entering its territory.

[NPWS spokesperson Lawrence Orel] said the blaze of publicity about the case meant people were now more likely to avoid the rogue magpie's nesting area or take precautions to prevent being hurt.

"It's a win-win situation for the magpie and the community,'' he said.

"No-one wants to see an iconic Australian bird destroyed. If anything, this case shows that the community really values its birds.''

Historically, residents in areas guarded by magpies had little misgivings about administering lethal justice to any problem birds, but in recent years that has changed. Even others who had close run-ins with this particular bird say they'd hate to see it being killed for standing its ground.

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Tags: Australia | Birds