Seized family magpie ‘healthy’, fight for return

Savannah Meacham |

A surprising friendship blossomed between Molly and the Staffordshire bull terriers Peggy and Ruby.
A surprising friendship blossomed between Molly and the Staffordshire bull terriers Peggy and Ruby.

A magpie known for its unusual friendship with two dogs is happy and healthy after it was seized but his family is continuing to fight for his return home.

Molly the magpie was rescued by Gold Coast couple Juliette Wells and Reece Mortensen in 2020 after the bird fell from his nest.

A surprising friendship blossomed between Molly and the couple’s Staffordshire bull terriers Peggy and Ruby, which Ms Wells began documenting on social media, showing the trio cuddling, playing together and even the magpie barking like a pup.

But several complaints to the Department of Environment, Science and Innovation over the animal friendship led to the family having to surrender Molly in March.

“It’s been really difficult,” Ms Wells told AAP on Tuesday.

The couple said they have been unable to obtain the right wildlife caring permit due to their social media presence, with more than 785,000 followers on Instagram.

It has been a stressful time for the pair and their dogs, who are unsure why their feathered friend is no longer flying through the home and playing with them.

“Whenever they hear birds in the backyard they’ll run out to see if it is Molly,” Ms Wells said. 

“Peggy is clingy and depressed as well.”

The seizure of Molly sparked outrage on social media, with a petition calling for the bird to be returned to its Gold Coast home. 

Premier Steven Miles even chimed in, saying Molly should be reunited with his family. 

“I’m most interested in what is in the best interests of the animal and if the department can work with the family to reunite them in a way that is legal, I would support them,” he said on Thursday.

“I think sometimes common sense needs to prevail.”

A month after the seizure, the department gave an update to the couple on Tuesday about Molly’s wellbeing.

“Molly is doing very well. He is happy and he is healthy,” Ms Wells said, adding they would receive another update this week regarding permits.

“We don’t definitely know we’re going to get him back but there is a light at the end of the tunnel,” he said.

The department said it was working with the family for the best outcome for Molly.

“The department has contacted the couple to assure them that Molly is being well cared for and that options are being examined for the bird’s future care,” the spokesperson said.

“Our priority is the ongoing welfare of the magpie, and the bird is safe, undergoing rehabilitation and has full access to veterinary care.”