Taylor Swift’s NZ Film Crew Issues Statement Denying Harm of Endangered Birds on Video Shoot

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Taylor Swift arrives at the MTV Video Music Awards at the Microsoft Theater on Aug. 30, 2015, in Los Angeles. Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

29 November 2015

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The singer’s local film crew ruffled some feathers.

Taylor Swift’s film crew is receiving criticism from New Zealand conservationists for potentially disrupting the native habitat of the endangered dotterel bird while filming a music video.

According to Radio NZ, the “Bad Blood” singer’s New Zealand film crew was approved to bring two vehicles on Bethells Beach on Nov. 23, but up to a dozen were used. Sandra Coney, Waitakere Ranges’ local board chair, was “disappointed” that the pop star’s crew did not follow the rules set in place and credited the reasoning to the bird’s habitat.

Taylor Swift Tallies First Dance/Mix Show Airplay No. 1 With ‘Wildest Dreams’

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“There are only two breeding pairs — only four birds — that have been there about 10 years, and they usually fledge only one or two chicks a year. There are only 1,700 dotterals left in New Zealand. So it is a major concern for the board, and as a result we have a dotteral management framework which sets conditions for vehicles on the beach,” Coney said, according to Radio NZ. “For instance, they can only go on a certain part of the beach, they can only go at a certain speed and there should always be someone walking in front of the vehicles to make sure there are no dotterals in the way.”

Coney added, “There are very few filming applications turned down outright, but we do try and keep the number of vehicles to an absolute minimum, because of the wildlife risk. We really have to look after these birds.”

Cherokee Films, the local production company behind Swift’s New Zealand shoot, issued the following statement, obtained by the BBC, and defended Swift, stating that she and her team were not at fault and that no birds were harmed.

“Taylor Swift and her management team were in no way at fault and did not do anything that violated permits or ordinances. Cherokee Films has a long history of responsible film shoots across Auckland, including Bethells Beach, where we have filmed many times. Our shoots have always been with the guidance and support of the relevant local authority — most recently Screen Auckland and Parks — and landowners. Cherokee Films were filming at Bethells Beach on Monday 23rd November where a base camp was set up on private land which allowed for access to the beach. We had permission from the landowners and paid a fee for use of the land. At all times the film crew adhered to the Dotterel protocol in guidelines provided about the dotterel nesting sites, and at no time were the film crew close to that habitat. No Dotterel were harmed. Our filming occurred outside of the Dotterel breeding area (as per referenced map which indicates the area and also the breeding seasons). Once on the beach, via the restricted access zone, the film crew presence was always in the hard sand area only — as per the permit. In acknowledgement of the concern this has added to those in charge of protecting local Dotterel population Cherokee Films will make a donation to the breeding program as we support your concerns.”

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