Rookery identification essential to eradication programme
Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC) is asking for landowners, contractors and those out and about in the back blocks to help in the effort to eradicate the regions rook population. This pest birds' ability to damage agricultural crops is well known, with precision planted seeds such as maize, beans and peas especially at risk.
The GWRC Rook Eradication Programme began in the late 1980's and has effectively reduced numbers of the pest over recent years: from 25 rookeries, or colonies of birds, and 880 nests, to 8 rookeries and 42 nests last season. High winds during the last two breeding seasons have impeded progress with rookeries and some birds have likely now dispersed from known nesting sites.
"Sadly when habitual nesting sites are destroyed the birds disperse to new locations. It can be difficult to locate the new rookery sites. Last year, following information from the public, we did identify some and we'd really like help from the public again," says Steve Playle, GWRC Biosecurity Officer. "This year will be very important for getting accurate information of what is out there."
During September and October GWRC Biosecurity Officers are targeting parts of the Wairarapa and rural areas between Makara and Otaki that are known nesting sites.
"We are keen to hear from those who might have called us in the past as well as those finding rooks for the first time," says Steve. "It's important that property owners don't try to poison or shoot any rooks they find. These are wary birds and will quickly disperse and establish more rookeries. GWRC Biosecurity Officers will control these birds at no cost to the landowner."
Rooks were introduced to New Zealand in the late 1800s to control pasture insects. The rook is slightly larger than a magpie, black all over and can be identified by its harsh call. The birds usually group together and nest high up in tall trees.
To report the location of rooks or rookeries, or to find out more about rooks, contact a Biosecurity Officer at Greater Wellington, 06 378 2484 or 04 526 4133.
Go to www.gw.govt.nz/rooks/ to download a factsheet.
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