Qld Premier backs return of Molly the magpie

Molly and Peggy together in happier times

Source: Instagram/Juliette Wells

Queensland Premier Steven Miles has thrown a lifeline to an Insta-famous magpie separated from its best friend by wildlife authorities.

The unlikely pairing of Molly the magpie and Peggy the Staffordshire bull terrier has attracted international headlines this week after Queensland authorities swooped in to separate the pair, amid concerns for the bird’s welfare.

It began innocently enough, when Gold Coast couple Juliette Wells and husband Reece Mortensen found an injured baby magpie on a walk during a Covid lockdown.

They took in the injured chick, naming him Molly. Once at home, Molly formed an unlikely friendship with Staffordshire bull terrier Peggy.

The enduring friendship has been documented on social media where the animals’ joint Instagram account, which occasionally features Peggy’s daughter, Ruby, has more than 700,000 followers.

Until this week – when Wells and Mortensen revealed in an emotional video that they had surrendered Molly to Queensland’s Department of Environment, Science and Innovation because they did not have the permits to keep him. DESI alleges the magpie was taken from the wild and kept unlawfully.

“We are asking why a wild magpie can’t decide for himself where he wants to live and who he wants to spend his time with?” the couple wrote in a post online.

Mortensen said the couple had tried to do everything to keep Molly, including getting the required permit. But he had to withdraw his application, as their social media accounts were a conflict.

“We are devastated to give you this news and, of course, so are these beautiful girls because they’ve lost their best friend,” Wells said, gesturing to their dogs.

On Thursday, Miles threw the family, including Peggy and Molly, a lifeline, saying “commonsense needs to prevail”.

“What I’m most interested in here is what’s in the best interests of that animal,” Miles said.

Asked if he would have the same understanding if a bilby or a koala was being raised in someone’s home without the necessary permits, Miles said there was “a clear difference”.

“I would say that the environment department stands ready to train Molly’s parents to be wildlife carers, to get them the right certification, so Molly can be reunited with her family,” he said.

Miles said Queensland laws should not be broken – but said Molly’s was an unusual case.

“I think if you look at the story, there is a better outcome possible,” he said.

“There has to be a way within the rules to see Molly live out a happy life with her family.”

Surf champ's support for Molly and Peggy

Source: Instagram/Kelly Slater

The case has made world headlines, with the BBC reporting on Thursday that 50,000 people had signed a petition in support of Molly being returned to Mortensen and Wells.

Also on Thursday, surfing champ Kelly Slater shared Molly’s plight with his 3.3 million Instagram followers.

“This wild magpie made these staffies its family,” he wrote.

“Then someone in a government department decided they didn’t approve and took the bird away. Sounds like it was the bird’s natural decision, so why not let it be?”

Molly remains in the care of DESI. However, the department has said that because he has been “highly habituated to human contact”, he will not be able to be released back into the wild.

It is trying to find an appropriate home for the bird.

Stay informed, daily
A FREE subscription to The New Daily arrives every morning and evening.
The New Daily is a trusted source of national news and information and is provided free for all Australians. Read our editorial charter
Copyright © 2024 The New Daily.
All rights reserved.