Swift accused of endangering birds while filming music video

Production company apologises for violations, says singer not at fault

Afp November 28, 2015
Swift’s London-based representatives sent AFP a statement stating the singer hadn’t done anything that violated permits. PHOTO: FILE

WELLINGTON: Conservationists in New Zealand accused singer Taylor Swift of endangering a rare bird species while shooting a music video near Auckland, but the film’s producers said the US singer was not responsible.

The 25-year-old pop star flew to Auckland this week to film the video at Bethells Beach, a popular seaside town just outside the city. The chairwoman of the Waitakere Ranges Local Board, Sandra Coney, said Swift’s production company was given permission to film on the beach, which is home to the endangered New Zealand dotterel.

Coney said the film crew flouted a restriction limiting them to two vehicles on the sand, instead churning it up with up to a dozen vans and four-wheel drives.

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“It’s really disappointing that such a large number of vehicles would park and drive all over the beach,” Coney told Radio New Zealand.

Swift’s London-based representatives for Europe sent AFP a statement from Cherokee Films, the local film production company, stating, “We accept responsibility and apologise for this situation.”

The statement added, “Taylor Swift and her management team were in no way at fault and did not do anything that violated permits or ordinances.”

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It mentioned that no dotterels were harmed during the filming while the guidelines on nesting sites were adhered to and at no time were the film crew close to the bird’s habitat.

The department of conservation website stated there are only 1,700 dotterels left in New Zealand and warned beachgoers to watch out for their nests in the sand near the high-tide mark. “Because they are so hard to see, nests are sometimes crushed by people, vehicles or horses,” it stated.

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Coney, a veteran environmental activist in the area, said she would ask the Auckland council to investigate the behaviour of those involved. Despite admitting that she is a fan of Swift’s pop-country warblings, Coney was in no mood to follow the advice of the singer’s biggest hit Shake It Off. “I don’t know whether ‘Shake It Off’ is the right thing [to do],” she said. “But she’s got another song ‘Wildest Dreams’ that says ‘say you’ll remember me’; maybe I’ll do that instead.” 

Published in The Express Tribune, November 29th, 2015.

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