Authorities have urged Canberrans to stop feeding magpies in public places amidst accounts of brazen birds attacking humans for food.
Reports of an aggressive bird stealing food from a child's mouth forced rangers to destroy seven birds near Yerrabi Ponds in Gungahlin on Thursday.
ACT Parks and Conservation director Daniel Iglesias said it was the first time the authority had taken such extreme action – and he didn't want it to have to do it again.
"These weren't swooping birds; these magpies were especially attacking people for food," Mr Iglesias said.
"People think they're doing magpies a favour by feeding them but then they lose the capacity to find food themselves. You're doing them a disservice.
Mr Iglesias said human feeding had "artificially and unsustainably" elevated the magpie population at Yerrabi Ponds to between 24 and 30 birds.
"These magpies were congregated in a group that had learnt if they pestered humans enough they'd get food," he said.
The ACT Parks and Conservation Department received multiple reports of "close shaves" between birds and people in the months leading up the cull, Mr Iglesias said.
On August 5, a bird attacked a two-year-old in a pram, "menacing" the child's mouth with its beak and claws to steal food.
Others reported birds "stalking" parents as they pulled strollers out of their cars.
The authority placed signs in the area asking people not to feed the birds, however people were still seen feeding them as recently as August 18.
Rangers monitored the behaviour of the birds for a month before trapping seven of the most aggressive by luring them with food.
Mr Iglesias said this rare measure was necessary to protect public safety.
"Where magpies are so brazen, have no fear of humans and this is happening in a public space, we have to draw a line. We have a very high bar and we don't like doing it [destroying magpies]," he said.
"In 99 per cent of cases we advise people to be cautious and avoid the area. If we didn't act a child could have lost an eye."
Mr Iglesias believed the main culprits were now gone, but called on people to report any acts of aggression by birds.
Authorities will monitor the area for two to four weeks to determine whether more birds would need to be destroyed.
RSPCA ACT chief executive Tammy Van Denge said an inspector would attend Yerrabi Pond to ensure the destruction of the birds was carried out in a humane way.
To report an aggressive magpie, contact Access Canberra on 13 22 81.