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Now’s the time to look for rooks


5 September 2014

Now’s the time to look for rooks

The Otago Regional Council’s best asset in its fight to eliminate rooks are the thousands of eyes and ears already on the ground.

ORC’s rook control programme runs from now until November and council asks people to look out for rooks, their rookeries and nesting sites around the region. At their peak there were several thousand nesting rooks in Otago, but their numbers have been drastically reduced through council’s control programmes.

Rooks (Corvus frugilegus) are part of the crow and raven family. They are larger than magpies and totally black. The black feathers often show a purple or bluish-purple sheen in bright light. They were introduced to New Zealand from Europe by early settlers to control insects, but can cause significant damage to crops and new grass.

ORC director environmental monitoring and operations Jeff Donaldson said around 60 rooks are left in Otago. These have been previously seen in the Maniototo, Strath Taieri and Clarks Junction areas, and in South Otago around Clydevale and Wairuna.

“Without local information, it’s just like searching for a needle in a haystack, trying to find the remaining small populations,” he said.

Mr Donaldson advised people who saw a rook on their property not to shoot at or scare the birds. There was often only one chance to deal with them, and if disturbed they could scatter to form new rookeries.

“Anyone who sees a rook or rookery just needs to give us a call and our pest eradication staff will come and deal with them as a free public service.”

“Of particular note is that there have been no reports of new rook chicks in Otago over the past three years, and that we may now have a non-breeding population,” Mr Donaldson said.

People who notice rooks in Otago are asked to phone Malcolm Allan on 027 278 8498, or ORC on freephone 0800 474 082. Otherwise, email info@orc.govt.nz

© Scoop Media

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