WILDLIFE carers have been left horrified and angry after the discovery of magpies with clipped wings and missing tail feathers around Warwick.
Despite magpie breeding season being all but over, cruel individuals have been capturing and mutilating the protected birds in apparent attempts to prevent attacks on pedestrians and cyclists.
An upset Pascale Farrow and her daughter Amber visited the Daily News office on Thursday with a young magpie they spotted hopping around and unable to fly, other than in a low circle, near the post office.
The pair were shocked to discover that a number of the bird's secondary feathers - those closest to its body - on its right wing had been cut.
To make things worse, some of its tail feathers had clearly been ripped out, undoubtedly causing the unfortunate bird substantial pain and distress.
Had the bird not been rescued it would almost certainly have perished from starvation.
"We have heard of at least three other birds that have been found in a similar state in recent weeks in the town area," Ms Farrow said.
Disgusted native bird specialist carer Pat Geraghty, who now has care of the injured magpie at his Warwick home, described those behind the cruel acts as "morons".
"They would need to be feeding the birds to gain their trust before they would be able to trap them," he told the Daily News.
"This is the first year we have seen magpies brought in having been treated this way in Warwick.
"The breeding season doesn't even last two months - why do people feel the need to take this action just to avoid being swooped in the park?"
The bird found this week will stay with Mr Geraghty until at least April next year and can only be released once it has moulted and grown out a new set of wing and tail feathers.
But the cruelty is made worse by the fact that even with a full set of feathers these birds cannot be returned to their original home territory as they would be driven out and most likely killed by their "former" family members.
"Magpie families are extremely territorial and they will not accept a member which has been absent for a long period," Mr Geraghty said.
"What I do is form a new group of magpies while they are in my care and then find an area - generally west along the Condamine River - where I am satisfied there are no existing magpies and release the group there."
Mr Geraghty said the worst case of mutilation of a magpie he had seen was just a fortnight ago, with the bird concerned bleeding after having had its wing feathers cut back almost to the bone.
Under recent changes to the law the maximum penalty for animal cruelty in Queensland is now a fine of $220,000 or four years in prison.
Who to call
If you have rescued an injured or abandoned native bird in Warwick call Pat Geraghty on 0467 449 148
Other native animals needing care in the region can be reported to Granite Belt Wildlife Carers on 0418 144 073