The Conservation Regulator is seeking information from the public after magpies were recently detected with caged legs and chains around their necks in Hoppers Crossing.
Five to ten magpies have been affected, some of which were found alive but sadly several were found dead. One bird had to be euthanised after a vet assessed it as being dehydrated, malnourished, unable to fly and having lost muscle mass.
The leg tags and chains, which are made from metals and hard plastic, significantly hinder the magpies’ ability to fly, escape predators and feed.
The Conservation Regulator is investigating if the cases are linked and is looking to identify the person or people responsible, as it’s believed these are cases of wildlife cruelty.
There are only limited circumstances when a person can legally tag a native bird in Victoria, which include having a relevant licence or permit and using specific types of tags. The size and location of the band on these magpies are not legal.
The maximum penalty for aggravated cruelty leading to death or serious disablement of an animal is $92,460 in the case of a natural person or imprisonment for 2-years, or in the case of a body corporate, $221,900.
Anyone with information about these incidents or other cases of wildlife crime is urged to contact Crime Stoppers Victoria on 1800 333 000. Detailed information is appreciated and can include time, date, photographs and videos, names, and vehicle registrations.
Anyone who sees a sick, injured or distressed magpie is also encouraged to use the Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action’s Help for Injured Wildlife tool to locate the closest native wildlife carers and rehabilitation organisations to help the injured wildlife: https://www.wildlife.vic.gov.au/injured-native-wildlife/help-for-injured-wildlife