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Now’s the time to look for rooks


11 September 2012

Now’s the time to look for rooks

Otago Regional Council (ORC) staff are keen to hear from anyone in the region who have seen rooks.

From now to November ORC staff will be carrying out rook control, and ask people to look out for 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 local 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 pasture.

ORC director regional services Jeff Donaldson said so far this season rooks have been reported at Patearoa in the Maniototo, Clydevale and Clinton in South Otago, and also near the border with Environment Southland (ES) at Kaiwera. Council is unsure of exact numbers, but is confident that current populations are less than 100 nesting birds. ORC and ES co-ordinate efforts to control rook numbers on the regional boundary.

“Our best asset is the eyes and ears of all those on the ground. Without information from locals it’s like looking for a needle in a haystack”.

“We know that there were rooks in the region last season, but without tip-offs from the public it’s a real challenge to find them,” 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 can scatter to form new rookeries.

“Landowners should be aware that the ORC will not charge them a fee for eradicating rooks from their property,” he added.

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


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