Rook con­trol re­lies on watch­ful peo­ple

Matamata Chronicle - - News -

Waikato peo­ple are be­ing asked to re­port sight­ings of rooks – cun­ning, de­struc­tive pests which threaten agri­cul­tural pro­duc­tion.

The large black birds are big­ger than mag­pies and pose a se­ri­ous threat to farm­ing as they feed on crops, for­age in pas­ture for grubs and tear open silage cov­ers.

In­for­ma­tion gath­ered by Waikato Re­gional Coun­cil’s biose­cu­rity team sug­gests rooks are through­out the re­gion, usu­ally in very low numbers and more com­monly seen in Mata­mata, Ti­rau, Pu­taruru, Man­gakino, Cam­bridge, Mi­randa and Ka­iaua.

Coun­cil biose­cu­rity of­fi­cer Brett Bai­ley said: ‘‘Rooks can be very dif­fi­cult to find as they are highly in­tel­li­gent and can be wary of con­trol meth­ods we em­ploy. The in­for­ma­tion we get from peo­ple en­sures our an­nual nest poi­son­ing pro­gramme is ef­fec­tive.

‘‘Tar­get­ing rooks dur­ing the nest­ing pe­riod gives us the best chance to ef­fec­tively con­trol the numbers but it also means a very nar­row win­dow of op­por­tu­nity.’’

Mr Bai­ley urged landown­ers to re­port rook sight­ings to the coun­cil and not at­tempt to con­trol the birds them­selves.

‘‘Re­search shows that, when free of dis­tur­bance, rooks spread slowly. In fact, few young birds will dis­perse be­cause of their strong at­tach­ment to their birth rook­eries. Landown­ers who at­tempt to con­trol rooks them­selves make the job more dif­fi­cult for the pro­fes­sion­als, as wary rooks will tend to aban­don ex­ist­ing rook­eries and spread fur­ther afield,’’ he said.

Waikato Re­gional Coun­cil em­ploys pro­fes­sional con­trac­tors to con­trol rooks, us­ing he­li­copters to ac­cess the nests.

Rooks tend to nest high in trees which give unre- stricted views of the sur­round­ing coun­try­side and are sit­u­ated near wa­ter­ways.

The birds are na­tive to the United King­dom and Europe. They be­long to the same fam­ily as crows and ravens, which are not found in New Zealand.

The look for rooks cam­paign was launched by Waikato Re­gional Coun­cil in 2009 and its suc­cess re­lies on in­for­ma­tion from the pub­lic.

To re­port sight­ings or get more in­for­ma­tion about rooks go to www. waika­tore­gion. govt. nz/ rook or phone 0800 BIOSE­CU­RITY (0800 246 732).

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