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A tip-off about a rookery near Park Road in Carterton in August is just the sort information Greater Wellington pest control officer Steve Playle is after in the bid to eradicate rooks from Wairarapa.
Mr Playle says it is unusual to find a rookery so close to a town.
“There are six birds in this rookery and left alone they would build up in numbers quickly. From where they are it is just a short flight to good cropping land in Ahiaruhe and Gladstone, where they could cause a lot of damage.”
The comparative size of a rook, a magpie and a blackbird
Mr Playle says the rook problem peaked in Wairarapa in the mid 1990s, with crops in South Wairarapa and Whareama being seriously damaged.
He says a consistent and methodical approach to rook control has got these crop-munching birds down to small numbers in Wairarapa
“Greater Wellington is getting on top of rooks in Wairarapa, but still need rural residents to be our eyes and ears to help locate the last few breeding populations.
“We want to keep the pressure on them. Any sighting of a rook or rookery is important. It doesn’t matter if you have called us before, we are still very interested to hear from you.”
Typically, breeding rookeries will be located in stands of mature pines or eucalyptus trees. Often they are in close proximity to houses and other farm buildings.
He warns against landowners shooting or poisoning birds.
“They are incredibly smart birds and move nesting sites if they feel threatened. Call Greater Wellington and we will destroy them free of charge.”
Rooks have been in Wairarapa for about 80 years and were introduced to New Zealand in the late 1800s to control pasture insects.
Unfortunately, they also enjoy crop seed, crop seedlings and mature grains.
Rooks are larger than magpies and are black all over, and can be identified by its call, “KAAH”.
Greater Wellington works collaboratively with Horizons and Hawkes Bay to try and eradicate rooks on the east coast. Greater Wellington will be doing surveys for rookeries in September and start control in October.
Any sighting of a rook or rookery is important. Greater Wellington will destroy them free of charge. You can contact Steve Playle on 06 378 2484 or email email@example.com.