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   Sparrow deaths worry locals
   Public Affairs/N/A community work/Asia Pacific/Alexander Communications

Challenge

Alexander Communications (AC) is passionate about people and the environment, and regularly helps non-profit and cause-related groups and individuals to raise awareness and work with media and the public. Taking that ethos one step further, AC extended its support to those who cannot help themselves. The team’s heartstrings were pulled when Torbay resident Kate Mitchell raised an alert – she had found more than 10 sparrows “unconscious and breathing heavily” after eating birdseed that had apparently been laced with a toxin. The poison’s incapacitating effects left the birds unable to take shelter as normal, and a number died as a result. AC leapt into action by sharing news of the sparrow deaths with local and mainstream media.

Response

AC used information garnered from local residents to draft a short statement about the incident, which it distributed to an extensive network of local and national media. The key goal was to expose, and therefore stop, the poisoning. Further research by AC revealed that the Torbay case was not isolated, and that several cases of laced birdseed had been reported in the past few months in other areas, including Wellington. Images of the dead sparrows were shared by local residents online via Facebook, and the online community lobbied to put an end to the animal cruelty.

Results

Describing the incident as a ‘sudden spate of sparrow deaths’, AC advised media about the situation and received immediate interest. The story was reported in several national news and current affairs outlets, including Breakfast TV, Seven Sharp and NewsTalk ZB. Local and national newspapers, including The New Zealand Herald and The North Shore Times, reported on the case. Since the national media coverage, no further incidents of bird poisoning have been reported in Torbay. The AC team hopes that their role in this case has helped to promote greater awareness of animal welfare, and that if people witness or hear of exploitative or cruel acts involving animals, they report it immediately.