Bird experts criticise City of Stirling plan to kill magpie

Clarko Reserve in Trigg. Photo: Martin Kennealey
Clarko Reserve in Trigg. Photo: Martin Kennealey

BIRD experts have criticised a City of Stirling decision to seek destruction of a swooping magpie in Trigg.

The City has applied for a dangerous fauna licence from the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions to have a magpie killed, after it was reported to have injured several children at Clarko Reserve.

Birdlife WA program manager Vicki Stokes labelled the move “extreme” and believed the City should consider other options.

“Birdlife never condones native birds being destroyed,” she said.

Ms Stokes was concerned about the injuries inflicted by the magpie but said people should avoid the area during the nesting season.

“It’s only for a short period of time and in a concentrated area,” she said.

“If they destroyed that bird the nest would still be there.

“You’re not necessarily dealing with the problem long term.”

She was worried the application would set a precedent but the City believed it was a rare occurrence that was warranted in light of the recent attacks.

Parks and sustainability manager Ian Hunter said 11 signs were erected at Clarko Reserve to warn about swooping magpies in the area and urged people to take care and avoid areas around nests.

“After assessing events over the weekend, the City has determined that recent magpie attacks at Clarko Reserve have been ongoing and of a serious nature,” he said.

“While the City receives reports of magpie attacks or incidents each year, there has not been a recorded rise.”

Naturist Eric McCrum, known as The Birdman, said magpies lived in a clan and were territorial, with males actively protecting eggs during nesting.

“Why should you kill a male that’s protecting its territory?” he said.

“As soon as the babies are out the swooping stops.”

Mr McCrum believed the “logical” thing would be to avoid the area for the few weeks of nesting.

He said it was not possible to relocate magpies and killing the one magpie could potentially result in another taking over defence of the nest.

According to the Department, if the licence was approved an officer would attend the location on several occasions to observe the magpie’s behaviour.

Wildlife officer Emma Lipianin said the officer would shoot the bird if it deemed it dangerous.

“That’s the most humane way to deal with it,” she said.

“Just because we’re issuing a licence doesn’t give an iron clad death warrant of the bird.

“We don’t issue them lightly.”