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Animals and Pets


Cull of male magpie in Lane Cove North

28 September 2021

This morning Council proceeded with the cull of one aggressive male magpie in the vicinity of Johnston Crescent in line with the permit issued by NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS). On the morning of the cull, the bird was seen to be aggressive on a number of occasions, confirming the behaviour reported by residents in recent years.

Whilst a nest has been seen nearby, this bird has not been observed attending this nest. Council is only aware of one magpie showing aggression in the area and can confirm that while the permit is inclusive of male and female magpie, it has only utilised the permission to cull the aggressive male magpie. 

Council received a variety of suggestions relating to relocating the magpie as an alternative - it has always been Council's preference to relocate the bird. NPWS do not permit the relocation of native birds under the ‘NPWS Policy on Management of Native Birds that Show Aggression to People’, as their research concludes there is a low chance of survival post relocation. It is our understanding that NPWS have received several requests to review their policy with examples given of alternate options in other States. 

Rest assured this solution has not set a precedent in Lane Cove and was only sought as a last resort following an increasing number of injuries to residents where the bird’s aggression has drawn blood.

Council appreciates the wide ranging empathy and passion to protect our native wildlife and welcomes any updates the NPWS has to its policy and processes. 

History and Further Information

September 2021

There has been a history of magpie attacks in a concentrated area of Lane Cove North. In 2020 Council received reports of heightened magpie attacks. Magpies are a protected species and fall under the jurisdiction of the National Parks and Wildlife Service who manage them in line with the ‘NPWS Policy on Management of Native Birds that Show Aggression to People’.

In this particular instance the magpie swoops beyond the typical six week season, with attacks extending from July to December. In 2020 Council followed the advice of NPWS and its recommended processes to reduce the likelihood of attacks including increasing resident awareness, signage and liaising with residents within the nearby streets. At the request of some residents we included new signage with QR codes to the Magpie Alert website to report incidents and also provided umbrellas nearby for those who felt they could benefit from extra protection.

Our aim has been to support a positive outcome for residents and local wildlife. Resident injuries have continued in the 2021 season and therefore Council again contacted NPWS. Given Council had followed all the preventative measures outlined in their policy, NPWS indicated that Council could make an application to cull as relocation is not permissible.

The below encounters are examples from the website ‘Magpie Alert’ for the Johnston Crescent and Tantallon Road area of Lane Cove North over the past month:

  1. 5/8/21 – ‘Swooped from behind, hit behind my right ear, drew blood and left me with a headache. Never heard it coming. Walked backwards for a while but no more attempts.’ -

  2. 6/8/21 – ‘Swooped while walking. Drew blood on the top of my head.’

  3. 9/8/21 – ‘Magpie came and swooped me. I didn’t see it coming from behind and it scratched my head. I now have three bleeding scratches. I felt like a shoe hit my head and the pain lasted three days.’

  4. 18/8/21 – ‘Magpie swooped first, I was walking always and it attacked me on my forehead, I had bleed, I tried to run but it kept swooping, and then stopped when I turned in another street. Scary and very aggressive that kept chasing me.’

  5. 19/8/21 – ‘I was swooped from behind and was hit on the side of the head. If I had turned slightly it would have been my eye. This is terrifyingly. I get swooped almost daily. Surely enough is enough. Do we have to wait until someone looses an eye to sort this out. If this was a dog it would have been put down by now!’

  6. 27/8/21 – ‘Magpie swooped and pierced the back of my head whilst I walking up the street. I had blood, now bruise, headache and a very sore head. Very scared to walk this way again without protection.’

  7. 29/8/21 – A strong hit to the right side of my head and continued to swoop. Feeling very shaken and bleeding heavily from the wound I sought medical advice. GP took it very seriously explained would was a hematoma which is a good thing as it means no skull fracture which is not uncommon. It was cleaned, tetanus shot and antibiotics required. Panadol for headache, heat pack for neck whiplash recommended. Drs certificate provided for 3 days if time off work needed. If it gets worse overnight, I need to come back in. $100 to see a GP on Sunday. Have a picture if helpful.’

  8. 31/8/21 – ‘Running around the oval. Kept running but it swooped at me three times. Made contact all three times and drew blood on two of them.’

View photographs of injuries provided by local residents.

There are also a similar number of attacks reported which did not result in injury.

 Magpie Alert.jpg

While it was hoped that the 2021 season would improve, unfortunately the injuries are such that Council has continued to liaise with National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) about the options, particularly as the swooping season for this particular area ran from July to December last year. Council has now received approval from NPWS for a ‘Licence to Harm’ covering a male and a female magpie in Johnston Crescent which is valid from 1/9/21 to 1/12/21. Council has nominated a licensed animal control contractor, who was included in the application, to carry out the cull.

Unfortunately relocation of the birds is not possible as the ‘NPWS Policy on Management of Native Birds that Show Aggression to People’ stipulates that ‘If removal of a bird is warranted, then destruction of the animal is the only option that will be considered’.

As required, Council notified residents by letter on 8 September 2021 prior to the proposed cull and made sure that appropriate signage was in place during the cull. We are also in the process of replying to correspondence received in relation to the cull.

This is the first magpie cull in recent memory and is one that Council hopes is an isolated case