Murgon primary school teacher Susan Mollenhauer brought along one of her son’s cycling helmets to Wednesday’s meeting to show councillors the repeated damage caused by just one rogue magpie 
Kingaroy pensioner Penny McGill has suffered many injuries from magpies near her home during the past 10 years (Photo: Craig Lucas)

September 22, 2021

South Burnett Regional Council will hire a contract bird catcher to relocate dangerous magpies from Council land.

The decision – taken at Wednesday’s General Meeting – reverses a 4-3 vote at last month’s meeting to shelve the idea.

Council will also now develop a policy to detail how it will handle dangerous magpies on Council land in the future.

The sudden about-face came after Murgon primary school teacher Susan Mollenhauer and Kingaroy pensioner Penny McGill addressed Wednesday’s meeting about the difficulties magpies were causing them.

Susan told the meeting her family was being menaced by a magpie that had roosted in a tree next to Boat Mountain Road for the past seven years.

Contrary to views expressed at August’s meeting that the swooping season only lasted six to eight weeks, Susan said the bird threatening her family attacked from April through to December.

She said she had tried feeding the bird and walking – not riding – past its nest, but neither strategy altered its behaviour.

And at the peak of swooping season the bird grew so aggressive her children could not even ride their bikes in the driveway.

As a result, there were only a few months each year when her family felt genuinely safe.

Susan said there was no viable alternative route to school for her children, and because she worked away from Murgon three days a week she was unable to drive them.

Recently, her son had been swooped and struck so violently on his way to school that his bike swerved across the road into gravel – a situation that could have led to tragic consequences.

She said the bird had also altered her own way of life, forcing her to take out a $500 gym membership because she could no longer walk on the road for exercise.

Susan said when she had approached a Council staffer about the matter, she was told she would have to pay more than $700 to have the bird removed.

However, since the nest was located on Council land she did not have legal authority to do this.

She also questioned why she should be paying this on top of her $2500 annual rates bill.

Susan said many other people used Boat Mountain Road for walks and had suffered similar issues.

“This is one nasty little bird,” she said.

Susan told the meeting Council had a policy covering dangerous dogs which stated people had a right to feel safe in the community.

And she reminded Councillors it was the responsibility of property owners to ensure people who accessed the property owner’s land could do so safely.

“If this magpie was on my property it would be my responsibility to remove it,” Susan said. 

“But it’s on Council land.”

Pensioner Penny McGill, who lives at the Kingaroy Showgrounds caravan park, told the meeting she had been plagued by a rogue magpie for almost 10 years.

This bird’s behaviour was so bad it had forced her to change her routines.

This included doing her shopping in the evening and travelling with an umbrella as a shield.

Penny, who recently celebrated her 77th birthday, said she would appreciate Council’s help in solving the problem.

After the two presentations, Cr Kathy Duff read letters she had received recently from Jason Wyeth, the secretary of the South Burnett Rail Trail Users Association; and Kingaroy resident Jason Ford.

In both letters, the writers said they had either recently witnessed or personally experienced magpie attacks along the South Burnett Rail Trail, and expressed concerns this could result in a serious incident if action was not taken to re-home particularly aggressive birds.

Cr Duff moved a motion that Council delegate relocating the magpies to CEO Mark Pitt for action, and Cr Kirstie Schumacher suggested Council also develop a policy for the management of aggressive magpies to outline how it would handle similar situations in future.

The motion to relocate the most aggressive birds and develop a policy was then put to a vote and carried 4-3, with Crs Jones, Henschen and Frohloff opposed.

After the meeting, Susan told southburnett.com.au she wanted to emphasise she was an animal lover and actually fed a family of magpies in her backyard which caused no issues.

Her address to Council was prompted by nothing more than this one rogue bird that was causing her family so many problems.

And she stressed she did not want the bird killed – just safely removed.

NB. The rogue Boat Mountain Road magpie was one of 20 magpies on a list considered at last month’s Council meeting.

Kingaroy resident Jason Ford said he had been forced to stop using the South Burnett Rail Trail for a few months after suffering repeated magpie strikes between Kingaroy and Memerambi … he underlined the point on social media with this composite image (Photo: Jason Ford)

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8 Responses to "Council Backflips On Magpies"

  1. Concerned  September 23, 2021

    What a shame the Council has decided to relocate swooping magpies. Councillors must be in ignorance of the end results of their action.

    1. If you relocate the male magpie to another area, he will be in another bird’s territory and the relocatee will be attacked and killed.

    2. Understand also that magpies mate for life.

    3. As the female remains on the nest to hatch the eggs, leaving only for a brief toilet trip, the male bird feeds her for this period. No partner… no food… so a slow death for her from starvation.

    We have studied magpies for about 30 years and had a pair nest just 6 metres from our back door for 5 seasons. I could relate many interesting facts discovered in this time. They are extremely intelligent birds.

    My plea is for the Council to leave the birds alone in their natural state, and for we humans to learn to tolerate their behaviour. After all, we have to learn to live with other inconveniences in our lives.

    Reply
  2. Audrey Sampson  September 23, 2021

    Leave them alone! The babies will all die and it is only in the breeding season that the parents are frantic to keep their young safe. Wear a suitable hat (not like that little cap the lady is wearing in the picture). Try waving a stick above your head if walking, or an umbrella. It should only last for a short while. Be brave! Try putting food out if it is in the house area.

    Reply
  3. Regtown  September 23, 2021

    Council is representing the wishes of the community. The voting split (I believe) is also a fair representation of the community on this topic. The examples presented to Council are genuine issues and are a concern shared by many.

    Euthanize or relocate the problem pests, I don’t mind.

    Reply
  4. Bill Weir  September 23, 2021

    The Queensland Department of Environment and Science has published a two-page PDF guide to relocating magpies which says that relocating aggressive males poses no threat to them or their young: https://environment.des.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0036/87849/gl-wl-relocate-magpies.pdf

    Reply
  5. Peanutchipper  September 23, 2021

    Bill … do you really believe everything a bureaucrat writes? That government handout has no references to real research. It’s just someone’s opinion from a government department wrapped up with a few pretty photos.

    I’d like to see the real results of relocation as studied over time by independent university researchers.

    My gut feeling is that Concerned is right. The relocated bird (especially if it is fairly young) will be killed when it invades another bird’s territory.

    Also, the council was told a new male bird could come in and adopt the abandoned family. Does anyone have ANY proof of this? It’s far more likely that the mother bird will abandon the chicks when she starts to starve.

    If an unattached male does move in, I bet it would kill the chicks. They’re not his. That’s how nature works.

    In the old days, someone would have simply shot the rogue birds (now illegal). Maybe the chicks would then have been hand-raised and become much-loved pets (also now illegal).

    This woke expensive crap about relocation is much more cruel than sudden death by bullet.

    Reply
  6. Ash  September 23, 2021

    Leave the magpies alone, they are part of Nature.

    Learn to live with them and stop people being aggressive towards magpies and they will not feel threatened and most likely not attack.

    Reply
  7. Rail Trail Rider  September 25, 2021

    When you consider the idiots we tolerate on our roads and in our community (and some may add in our Council), the magpies hardly rate as a problem.

    Reply
  8. Anita  September 26, 2021

    Leave the magpies alone! Us humans know its swooping season, so take precautions. Wave a stick above your head, have an umbrella, whatever…

    Why is it that we must cull everything that we don’t like? If we had to cull human stupidity then there wouldn’t be many of us left.

    I have Wattle Birds swooping in my backyard where my dog is scared of going outside. But going for a walk, I wave a stick so as not to be attacked and it works. So lets not cull birds, sharks etc. Leave them – it’s their nature and the sound of Australia.

    Reply

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