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"Sounds Bloody Dangerous": People Are Mad That Cops Shot A Swooping Magpie Dead

The magpie was mainly "quiet and lovely" but had a dark side.

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Before the Collingwood Magpies got destroyed last weekend, it was a magpie in northern NSW’s turn.

Julian Smith / AAPIMAGE

After the magpie at the Wyrallah Road Shopping Centre in East Lismore swooped one local resident too many, two plain-clothes police came along and shot it on a Tuesday lunchtime last month.

Burroblando / Getty Images

Now a gun control group has raised questions about whether police should be using a gun to carry out this execution.

As detailed in Junkee, the NSW Police Force handbook has a whole section on destroying magpies, which instructs police to use a shotgun. But Gun Control Australia still thinks it may be unlawful to use a gun for this purpose.

The group’s chair, Samantha Lee, pointed to the Firearms Act, which sets out the reasons that allow someone to have a firearm licence. The list includes “vertebrate pest animal control”. In order to have a licence for this purpose, the person must be employed or authorised by one of four government agencies, which don't include police.

Lee wants police to clarify which part of the firearm law police are using to justify the use of guns to shoot the troublesome magpies.

“It is alarming that police are using firearms to shoot a bird off its perch. Not only is it cruel to wildlife, but it sounds bloody dangerous,” Lee told BuzzFeed News.

When asked where they got the power to shoot a magpie dead, NSW police said they were “acting on the request of National Parks and Wildlife Service” and referred BuzzFeed News to that body.

It's not just the gun control group that is mad about the magpie shooting. Local residents are angry too.

The Facebook page “Lismore magpie attack - and others to be aware of” maps magpie attacks in the Lismore area. The page and its commenters have been left reeling by the shooting. Commenters were far from pleased with the decision to shoot the bird, with one calling it a “bloody disgrace” and another describing herself as "angry & heartbroken". However, one local spoke out against the magpie in question, writing: “No, the dead magpie started his attacks at beginning of august pursuing me from avondale avenue all the way to Spar. I have walked the long way and still been attacked well into December the last 2 years. Cut ears and cheeks are unpleasant but reports of permanent eye damage might encourage some balance on this issue”.
Facebook: Lismoremagpie

The Facebook page “Lismore magpie attack - and others to be aware of” maps magpie attacks in the Lismore area. The page and its commenters have been left reeling by the shooting.

Commenters were far from pleased with the decision to shoot the bird, with one calling it a “bloody disgrace” and another describing herself as "angry & heartbroken".

However, one local spoke out against the magpie in question, writing: “No, the dead magpie started his attacks at beginning of august pursuing me from avondale avenue all the way to Spar. I have walked the long way and still been attacked well into December the last 2 years. Cut ears and cheeks are unpleasant but reports of permanent eye damage might encourage some balance on this issue”.

According to reports, shopping centre patrons were not aware the two gun-wielding men were police.

An eyewitness told the The Northern Star that the two men claimed they were police before shooting the bird, but didn't show any ID. Another eyewitness said she could not sleep the night after witnessing the shooting. "'I saw these blokes with guns and I didn't know what the hell was happening because there was no uniforms, there was no cop car, there was nothing," she said. The police said they did present ID and explained who they were and why they were there. The bird had previously swooped other Lismore residents, but was "quiet and lovely" most of the time, according to the Facebook page.
Facebook: Lismoremagpie

An eyewitness told the The Northern Star that the two men claimed they were police before shooting the bird, but didn't show any ID. Another eyewitness said she could not sleep the night after witnessing the shooting. "'I saw these blokes with guns and I didn't know what the hell was happening because there was no uniforms, there was no cop car, there was nothing," she said.

The police said they did present ID and explained who they were and why they were there.

The bird had previously swooped other Lismore residents, but was "quiet and lovely" most of the time, according to the Facebook page.

People on social media also had feelings about the whole thing.

Horrified shoppers looked on as @nswpolice shot dead a magpie from a tree in #Lismore yesterday. This barbaric behaviour is way out of line with community expectations.

As magpie swooping season comes to an end, hundreds of Australians have reported injuries this year.

This slow-mo video of a magpie swooping a cyclist three times is both amazing and terrifying at the same time 😱🚴 📹: Luke Berkelmans https://t.co/ZiGrENok9a

According to the Magpie Alert! website, which tracks magpie incidents throughout the country, there have been 2,641 so far this year, with 342 injuries. Yet the magpie maintains a firm grip on Australia's affections and was voted as the bird of the year in 2017.

BuzzFeed News has contacted the National Parks and Wildlife Service for comment.

UPDATE

A spokesperson for the Office of Environment and Heritage, which oversees the National Parks and Wildlife Service, told BuzzFeed News that the NSW Police Force has a licence under the Biodiversity Conservation Act to harm magpies and other protected native birds when they are “assessed as a serious menace, which causes an immediate health or safety risk to humans”. The spokesperson said that destruction is “a last resort”.