SPCA investigating after customer finds scores of poisoned birds outside Daily Bread's Pt Chevalier, Auckland store

Warning: This story may be distressing to some readers.

The SPCA is investigating after a concerned Daily Bread customer was horrified to discover poisoned sparrows struggling outside the bakery chain's Point Chevalier, Auckland store.    

Auckland woman Mimi, who did not want to share her surname, was visiting the bakery on Tuesday when she saw sparrows outside the business looking very unwell.    

She told Newshub that her alarm grew when one of the bakery's staff told her that the birds had been deliberately poisoned ahead of an upcoming health inspection.    

Another member of staff was recorded picking up the birds but denied being involved in poisoning them. He did admit that they appeared to have been poisoned.    

After being alerted to the distressed birds, the SPCA delivered nine sparrows to BirdCare Aotearoa.   

One was dead on arrival but the other eight were given an antidote and were healthy enough to be released on Wednesday.   

The bakery has defended the actions and Daily Bread co-owner Josh Helm told Newshub, "we have a duty of care to our customers and their wellbeing which is why routine pest control is undertaken, including birds classified as pests".   

"We assure you that our pest control practices, commonplace in our industry, not only comply with stringent food safety standards but also specifically address potential health risks associated with bird populations."   

A spokesperson for Daily Bread said the business works closely with pest control services to ensure work is done in a "safe and humane way" and also that sparrows are "the most detrimental non-native bird species for our native biodiversity".   

Helm added that it was incorrect to say the poisoning was directly before a health inspection.    

While there was a health inspection on Tuesday, for which the store received an A grade, Helm said contractors carried out the controlled poisoning two weeks before.    

Correspondence with BirdCare Aotearoa.
Correspondence with BirdCare Aotearoa. Photo credit: Supplied

The birds were found struggling in a car park shared by other businesses, Helm said.  

He said had a bird been seen inside the premises, the store would have been given a D grade.  

Poisoning sparrows and pigeons in this manner is legal but "this is not the New Zealand way," Mimi told Newshub.    

A concerned member of the public emailed Newshub to say, "loads of people are upset and want to boycott them".   

"Let's hope this will teach them to use kinder methods to remove the birds from the premises," Mimi said.    

Helm said he is "actively working with our partners to find alternative ways to handle pests".    

Newshub has been told birds have also been poisoned at the Ponsonby store however Helm said, "there hasn't been any recent pest control measures undertaken at the site addressing potential health risks associated with bird populations".   

The SPCA told Newshub an "investigation into incidents involving dead sparrows in Auckland is ongoing".   

"Anyone with information about pest management measures being employed by businesses or individuals or who have witnessed attempts to eradicate birds is urged to contact SPCA."   

SPCA’s Scientific Officer Dr Christine Sumner said "it can be distressing for people who enjoy the company of birds to discover others may employ means to control their numbers or eradicate them".   

"Whether an animal is native or introduced, any measures taken to manage their impact or numbers must consider their capacity to experience pain or distress. SPCA opposes the use of methods of population control or management of wild animals that lead prolonged death and suffering of target or non-target animals."