My dad, a cow cockie who was ahead of his time when it came to conservation issues, was fond of saying that when Europeans arrived in Australia they lived by the motto "if it moves, kill it; if it grows then chop it down".
He also used to say the place would have been better off if sheep had been classified as pests and wheat declared a noxious weed… but that's a story for another day.
The point I'm working towards is he would have been horrified by the ACT government's implementation of a "final solution" to its feral magpie problem.
He's not alone.
Because of this column's usual author's interest in things avian, we have had several missives from people objecting to the culling of birds that may be some kind of threat to humans in and around Yerrabi Pond.
My understanding, and correct me if I'm wrong, is there are [or were] a small number of birds who people had conditioned into regarding humans as a food source by feeding them in public places.
The birds, who presumably now regarded all humans as potential sharers of largesse, understandably lost their fear of people and became assertive in the event a treat was not forthcoming.
This, in turn, led to complaints and the next thing you know Gungahlin gets an anti-Magpie crusade.
After attempts at relocation failed, on the predictable grounds these are a territorial species who don't need to rely on ACTION Buses to get from point A to point B because they are pretty handy with those wingy thingys, the only other alternative, apparently, was to identify the rogues and then put them to death.
It seems a pretty big step up when you consider the featherless biped is the one responsible for this misbehaviour in the first place.
I did a complete lap of Yerrabi Ponds, from the footbridge, down to the picnic area and then past the flying fox, across the spillway and up past the point of St Percy of the Pelicans, on Wednesday afternoon without spotting a sign stating the bleeding obvious: "please don't feed the birds".
While the powers that be say such signs have been erected, they aren't leaping out at you. Bigger fonts and more of them might help.
I'm pretty much on the same page as Philip Machin, a NSW resident, who has been following the saga. An animal rescuer, he asked a bird expert mate what he thought and got the following response:
"These food stealing magpies are almost inevitably the product of people feeding them from tables and verandahs. This experience, gained through our desire to make an intelligent creature entertain us, has now led to some birds' ultimate demise."
The expert, who made a direct link between the behaviour of the birds and the advent of the breeding season, suggested dumping some mulch and compost into their territory.
"It is well understood through research in Queensland that magpies prefer wild food to processed plastic," he said. "Perhaps some supplementary activity might divert their attention from removing the McDonalds from some little tugger's gob."
Mr Machin is generally disappointed with the way the matter has been handled.
"I thought the ACT had turned the corner on wildlife," he said. "Obviously not. Kangaroos, possums, snakes and magpies all seem to be easy targets for the authorities.
"What happened to educating the general public and the application of wildlife sensible initiatives?"
As for me I've always been fond of magpies and, like most Australians, have lived in close proximity to them since childhood.
When I was eight or 10 my mother was befriended by the matriarch of a local flock who she used to feed finely chopped steak while my brother and I made do with sausages, spaghetti bog, deep fried mutton chops and the like.
The creature got to the point where it would happily ride around the garden on her shoulder, occasionally nipping her on the ear.
That bird was not a problem and a good time was had by all.