Accused ‘kookaburra killer’ flees Australia
A MAN accused of ripping off the head of a kookaburra at a pub has reportedly fled the country, after facing possible animal cruelty charges and death threats.
Daniel Welfare is alleged to have grabbed the kookaburra and ripped its head off with his bare hands, while at the Parkerville Tavern in Parkerville, WA last Friday, according to the RSPCA WA.
The incident sparked outrage at the pub, shocking patrons who witnessed it, saying the man grabbed the bird and killed it, throwing it under the table afterwards "like nothing had happened".
Mr Welfare has reportedly now fled the country after being targeted with threats online, according to his lawyer Ross Williamson.
Mr Williamson fired back at online critics and said the kookaburra was a "dangerous nuisance animal" who needed to be dealt with. He claimed kookaburras were an invasive species in the state.
The kookaburra, known as Kevin, was well known at the venue for being cheeky, and sneaking food from patrons.
Mr Williamson did not directly address whether his client was involved in the killing of the bird, when speaking to 9 News Perth.
He said Mr Welfare had become the victim of an "online vigilante campaign" and he had issued two restraining orders on his behalf, against two different women since the alleged incident occurred.
"I've told people to stop threatening to kill, harm or rape my client," the lawyer said.
He said people needed to take into account that his client was a "bushy".
"The kookaburra is an invasive species in WA."
"Until recently you could shoot them with impunity and people used to do that and get a community service award for doing that sort of thing.
"This particular bird, I have reports about," Mr Williamson said. "It has attacked children. It's injured the faces of children … this bird is - or was - a dangerous nuisance animal and the Parkerville Tavern should have done something to deal with it."
Mr Williamson lashed the WA Police Commissioner for saying he would prosecute his client over the death of the bird.
"I hear nothing about the police investigating and prosecuting people for making threats to harm, kill and rape my clients," he said.
"I call on the police to do that - to investigate this criminal vigilante."
An RSPCA spokeswoman previously said the organisation had not given up possibly pursuing charges over the alleged incident, but said the Animal Welfare Act was unclear.
Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan has vowed to examine legal avenues surrounding native wildlife protection.
"We are now checking with the department whether or not this can be characterised as an act of animal cruelty," she told reporters on Monday.
Ms MacTiernan said if the case had exposed a legal loophole, it could lead to changes to the Animal Welfare Act, which was currently under review.
"Quite clearly we need a law that would stop that appalling behaviour happening," she said.
In a social media post that has since been deleted, the pub said they were "in disbelief about the barbaric attack on one of nature's gifts".