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.
- Related article: Magpie Relocation Plan Axed