Lane Cove Council to cull magpies after locals report violent repeated attacks

Darren CartwrightNCA NewsWire
Not Supplied
Camera IconNot Supplied Credit: News Corp Australia

Blood-drawing magpies are on notice, with a NSW council set to cull the overly-protective birds following numerous violent attacks over the past month.

The regularity and seriousness of the swopoing ambush attacks have resulted in Lane Cove Council proposing its first-ever cull of magpies, which are a protected species throughout NSW.

The LCC says it has no choice but to reduce their numbers, to prevent serious injury or possibly a death to local residents who have documented and photographed their assaults.A ‘license to harm’ has been granted for the area’s most aggressive birds.

An image supplied to the council showing blood that has been drawn by an alleged Magpie attack. It has led to a cull of magpies during the swooping season. Picture: Supplied
Camera IconAn image supplied to the council showing blood that had been drawn in a Magpie attack. It has led to a proposed cull of magpies in the Lave Cove Council area. Supplied Credit: NCA NewsWire

Throughout August, the start of ‘swooping season’, magpies drew blood from ears, scalps and foreheads, with one person pecked at least three times and another victim suffering “whiplash”.

To back up the decision for a cull, the council released eight examples of attacks including one person who wrote, “kept running but it swooped at me three times. Made contact all three times and drew blood on two of them”.

The main area of concern is an area near Johnston Cres and Tantallon Rd, Lane Cove North, adjacent to the heavily-treed Stringybark Creek and in close proximity to Batten Reserve.

Since 2020, the council says it has done everything in its power the to reduce attacks from warning residents of swooping birds to suggesting ways of avoiding attacks.

Camera IconMagpies nesting about 10km north west of Sydney’s CBD are on notice after a Lane Cove Council announced a proposed cull following numerous attacks. Pics Tara Croser. Credit: News Corp Australia

The council has even offered umbrellas to residents and provided QR code check-ins to assist in warning residents of the dangers ahead.

A website shows the location of attacks and whether they have resulted in injuries.

“Throughout the extended swooping season Council followed the recommended processes to reduce the likelihood of attacks including increasing resident awareness, signage and liaising with residents within the nearby streets,” a statement from the council said.

“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 in the vicinity of Johnston Crescent and concerns from some neighbouring residents have escalated during this second season.”

A map showing the number of attacks in the area Lane Cove Council intends to cull a number of magpies. Picture:  Magpie Alert
Camera IconA map showing the number of attacks in the area Lane Cove Council intends to cull a number of magpies. Magpie Alert Credit: NCA NewsWire

But all efforts to reduce the attacks and injuries have failed, making a cull the only option left, the council said.

Making matters worse, the council says, is that the seasonal two to three month swooping season has now blown out to six months and relocation is not an option.

“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,” they said.

“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 part of the NPWS process, Council is required to notify residents by letter prior to the proposed cull as well as make sure that appropriate signage is in place during the cull of up to two birds.

“This is the first magpie cull in recent memory and is one that council hopes is an isolated case.”

Sea World Protest
Camera IconNSW Animal Justice Party MP Emma Hurst wants state parliament to condemn the cull. Mike Batterham Credit: News Corp Australia

Animal Justice Party politician Emma Hurst said she would raise the cull in state parliament and seek “the House” to condemn the cull.

She said it was a “brutal knee-jerk reaction” and there appeared to be little regard for any chicks that would left unattended in nests to become easy prey for other animals

“There is absolutely no excuse for this callous action,” the NSW upper house politician said in a statement.

Camera IconEight examples of magpie attacks have been released by Lane Cove Council. Tara Croser. Credit: News Corp Australia


(Johnston Crescent and Tantallon Road area of Lane Cove North)

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.’ –

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

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.’

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

Camera IconMagpie attacks, like this one that occurred in suburban Brisbane, are causing concern for Lane Cove Council. Liam Kidston Credit: News Corp Australia

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 terrifying. 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!

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.

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 wound was a haematoma 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 three 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.’

Originally published as Lane Cove Council to cull magpies after locals report violent repeated attacks

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