A magpie "monster" that had been terrorizing people in Sydney was shot down on the orders of neighborhood officials, much to the distress of animal rights activists.
The Australian magpie was shot down after more than 40 complaints of attacks -- attacks that landed some victims in the hospital. One person even suffered a heart attack, Australian national broadcaster ABC reported.
"Same Magpie- - swooped three times and hit right side of head and scratched my face," one user wrote.
"He started by coming in at eyeball level -- straight on. I have never known a more aggressive magpie," wrote another.
The Australian magpie is a variant of the European bird of the same name. During mating season, the critters can become aggressive and attack humans crossing their territory. However, this bird in particular, nicknamed the "Windsor Road Monster," was deemed "very aggressive and uncharacteristically territorial" by the council, ABC reported. It went so far as to try to swoop in underneath cyclists' helmets.
The bird was shot as a last resort. The Hills Shire council told ABC the decision to shoot was "not taken lightly." Efforts to capture and relocate the "Road Monster" came up short. Officials then secured permission from the National Parks and Wildlife Service for a professional to shoot down the bird.
"Council does not usually take action to remove or destroy magpies — the usual procedure is to signpost known risk areas as birds are generally only aggressive for four to six weeks per year," said a council spokesperson.
Animal rights activists and bird lovers said they were outraged at the council's decision. The Australian political party Animal Justice Party said people were disgusted that a specimen of this iconic Australian species had been deliberately harmed.
"This parent bird was a food source for new chicks. ... I am outraged and upset beyond words," Heidi Vasilevskis said. "I truly fear for the future of our unique and precious animal life."
A Facebook group with 151,000 followers dedicated to Australian magpie enthusiasts was flooded with critical remarks about the council's decision, with some asking why cyclists couldn't simply avoid the area for the six weeks of mating season.
Magpies are widely beloved in Australia despite their penchant for violent swooping.
Magpie swoopings are a common occurrence in September and October in Australia, resulting in hundreds of injuries per year.