Fears of copycat shooting as fourth magpie impaled with blow gun dart

Fears of copycat shooting as fourth magpie impaled with blow gun dart

There are fears copycat shooters could be at work after a new report a magpie lark was found with a blow gun dart stuck in it on the NSW South Coast today.

It comes days after three magpies were spotted with near-identical injuries hundreds of kilometres away in Maitland in the NSW Hunter Valley.

Wildlife welfare organisation WIRES has condemned what it said appeared to be “deliberate” targeting of the birds, which are both protected species, with a restricted weapon.

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WIRES first received a report of a magpie with a blow gun dart from a concerned member of the public in the Maitland suburb of Chisholm on Monday.

This was followed by further reports on Tuesday, with members of the public capturing images of three birds showing blow gun darts lodged in their neck, beak and the corner of an eye.

The organisation said their vet had checked the photos and confirmed they were definitely not medical syringes.

“One of the problems with this situation – with an animal that has been spear darted – is that they can still fly, so it can be very difficult to catch them,” WIRES spokesperson John Grant told 9news.com.au.

Grant said that while the magpies appeared alert and well when spotted, there was a risk that the darts could be knocked further in by branches or other objects, causing traumatic injuries.

They were also likely to become seriously infected which, if not treated quickly enough, would prove fatal.

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Hunter Wildlife Rescue has been assisting on the ground with attempts to rescue and assist the injured animals in Maitland.

Grant said no further reports of the magpies had been made since Tuesday.

“We have our fingers crossed that they have managed to claw the darts out,” he said.

In New South Wales, it is illegal to possess or use blow gun darts without a permit.

The only authorised use is for the management of animals, such as in a veterinarian practice, and a safety course must be undertaken to obtain the permit.

A report has been made to the Maitland police regarding the incidents.

In Albion Park, a rescue team is currently trying to track the magpie lark to contain it and take it to a vet.

Anyone who spots any of these birds are being asked to call WIRES on 1300 094 737 so that they can be talked through the best way to assist.

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