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Published: 2002-09-05 00:00:00

People walking in parks and school grounds should keep an eye out for swooping magpies for the next couple of months.

Their nesting season is now – September to December - and they are very territorial, defending their nest and young by swooping and dive bombing unsuspecting walkers and bikers, especially in parks and schools. Magpies also prevent native birds from nesting and prey on eggs and chicks.

But people bothered by magpie attacks can now do something about it. Under the new Environment Waikato Regional Pest Management Strategy it’s up to the landowner to take action to control the pests, which includes city or District Councils and schools.

Where a nest is found and birds are attacking residents, the owner is responsible for removing the nest or birds. The best way is trapping using a Larsen trap which uses a decoy bird to lure magpies into the cage trap. Alpha-chloralose poison can also be used to sedate birds rather than kill them.

Magpies are widespread throughout the Region, preferring grassland farming areas with tall shelter belts of pine and gum trees. They also live on bush edges and in urban parks and reserves.

A successful operation was done at Pirongia last year as part of a research project to control magpies, with 712 taken from a 900 ha area. Other bird species have increase in number since the operation while magpie numbers have dropped.