Expert condemns magpie killing
BIRD’S BEHAVIOUR WAS NATURAL, SAYS UWA PROFESSOR
A MAGPIE behaviour expert has condemned the killing of a bird that attacked a one-year-old boy at Whiteman Park on Sunday, causing him serious damage to one eye.
UWA Associate Professor Amanda Ridley said it was natural behaviour for a magpie to swoop during spring and destroying the bird would not solve anything.
Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions confirmed it had used a firearm to put a bird down, which they believed was responsible for swooping Jacob Gale.
Dr Ridley said although the incident was unfortunate, it was “very normal” for magpies in breeding season to swoop as part of nest defence behaviour.
“This would have been natural instinct for the magpie; it would have detected a perceived threat close to its breeding area that it may have perceived as representing a danger to its young,” she said. “Some males in breeding condition have high testosterone this time of year, because this is the time of year is when mating occurs, so they may be more responsive and aggressive to perceived threats.”
She was concerned the incident would set a precedent and more magpies would be put down.
“Euthanasia will probably result in another magpie moving into the territory that will also swoop,” she said.
“I do not think killing it solves the problem. Warning signs in areas where magpies nest that tell people to avoid those areas during the breeding season is a better control measure.
“In these cases, where they pose a consistent threat to human life and their behaviour is anomalous, removal from the area is justified. Removal should always be preferred over euthanasia,.”
Department of Biodiversity Conversation and Attractions senior wildlife officer Rick Dawson said killing the bird was the only option as relocating it may have resulted in it continuing to swoop and cause injury at a new location.
He said the decision was for “community safety”.
“This bird struck the eyes of two small children in two days,” he said. “The behaviour exhibited by this bird cannot be modified.”