Dog who befriended Molly the magpie ‘depressed and clingy’ after bird seized


A Gold Coast couple’s pet staffy has become “depressed and clingy” after the magpie it befriended was seized over a permit bungle.

Juliette Wells and her partner Reece Mortensen rescued the bird, named Molly, when he was just a chick and nursed him back to health.

Once he was back to normal, they let the bird fly away – but Molly had other plans, and his heartwarming interactions with the Yatala couple’s dogs went viral online.

This week, Molly made international headlines when authorities confiscated him from Ms Wells and Mr Mortensen, claiming they were keeping him illegally. They have not been charged with any crime.

While Queensland Premier Steven Miles told reporters he would work with the pair to obtain the correct permit so they can be reunited with Molly, they told Today on Friday morning they were yet to hear anything – and that their four-legged friends have taken the bird’s absence particularly hard.

Juliette Wells and Reece Mortensen on surrendering Molly the Magpie

“It’s been really difficult, to tell you the truth. We’re noticing some behavioural changes in (our dog) Ruby,” Ms Wells said.

“Ruby, (our other dog) Peggy and Molly used to just be the best of friends. Molly was there when Ruby was born, so we’ve noticed Ruby’s starting to rip up her toys and Peggy’s been very depressed and clingy since Molly was taken.”

Ms Wells said the family are “a little bit nervous as to what’s happening with Molly”.

“We haven’t seen him and the Department (of Environment, Science and Innovation) haven’t spoken to us, so we’re very, very nervous and nervously waiting,” she added.

Molly has never been caged, had his wings clipped or been forced to stay inside – with Ms Wells and Mr Mortensen asserting many times the bird has been free to come and go as he wants.

While the DESI has said they need the correct permit to keep Molly, Mr Mortensen told Today he had already completed the necessary accreditation.

“I actually obtained a wildlife permit as a carer through an organisation that was accredited by the Department of Environment, Science and Innovation,” he said.

“I’ve done all the training and all the accreditations for it, so it’s all a matter of now just going to the Department and finding out what else I need to do to keep Molly here because he wasn’t even kept here in a cage, he was wild.”

A DESI spokesperson confirmed to in a statement that the bird has been seized, with a process currently in place to “have the magpie placed at a suitable facility”.

“A magpie that was allegedly being unlawfully kept by members of the public was voluntarily surrendered to the Department of Environment, Science and Innovation (DESI) on Friday, March 1,” the statement read.

“It is alleged that the bird was taken from the wild and kept unlawfully, with no permit, licence or authority being issued by DESI.

“All Queensland native animals are protected under the Nature Conservation Act 1992. To keep a native animal that originates from the wild, a person must have a permit, licence or authority to lawfully have the animal in their possession.”

Because Molly “has been highly habituated to human contact”, the spokesperson said, he “is not capable of being released back into the wild”.

The matter is still being investigated.