Environment Waikato is seeking help from the public to locate rooks, which pose a serious threat to the region’s agricultural industry.
The council is launching a “look for rooks” campaign on May 4, delivering flyers to more than 20,000 households in areas where the pest birds are likely to be roosting.
This includes the Waikato, Hauraki, Hamilton, Matamata-Piako, Waipa, South Waikato and Taupo districts – but everyone in the region is being asked to keep an eye out.
Anyone who spots a rook can record details of the sighting on the flyer and return it to Environment Waikato by freepost. Alternatively, people can call the council on 0800 BIOSECURITY (0800 246 732) or go to www.ew.govt.nz/rook.
Rooks are large, black birds, bigger than magpies. They come from the same family as crows and ravens, which are not found in New Zealand. Native to Great Britain and Europe, they feed on and damage newly sown crops, tear up pasture in search of seeds and grubs and rip open silage covers.
Found in both rural and urban areas, rooks nest high in the branches of tall trees such as gums and pines.
Environment Waikato biosecurity officer Dave Hodges said rooks could become a major problem if their populations reached large numbers.
“While we would like to eradicate them, this is not feasible because of reinvasion from neighbouring regions. But their numbers are low in the Waikato at the moment and we need to keep it that way to protect our region’s farms.”
He said people should not try to control rooks themselves because this would only cause them to scatter and spread further, making professional control more difficult.
“They are very cunning birds that can quickly detect any efforts to control them.”
Environment Waikato employs professional contractors to control rooks by applying poison to their nests. Helicopters are used to access the nests. Ground baiting is another control method that can be used.
More information about rooks and how to identify them is available at www.ew.govt.nz/rook.