Otago residents are reminded to keep their eyes peeled for sightings of rooks in the region after a Maniototo property owner spotted a parliament of the birds late last week. The Otago Regional Council have since travelled to the property and have confirmed the sighting and plan to continue more pest investigations on known sites in the area. ORC team leader of biosecurity and biodiversity Richard Lord said that, “fog hindered some recent site inspections, but we’ll continue the search and will implement appropriate control measures if any are located.”
Rooks — which were introduced to the country in the late 19th century to control insect pests — are identified on the ORC’s regional pest plan as a ‘pest to be exterminated.’ Since eradication efforts began, the regional population has been taken down from the thousands into the tens, which is a major benefit for grain and grass growers. The birds are known to fly in small groups around the region, who can inflict thousands of dollars of damage upon grassy crops.
Previous sightings in the Maniototo have meant that the ORC will be monitoring the area very closely. However, all residents in the Otago area are prohibited from poisoning, capturing, trapping or shooting at rooks, or interfering with a rook nest upon sighting, as this can lead to the groups splitting up, eventually spreading the population. Instead, sightings on either public or private land should immediately be reported to the ORC at 0800 474 082.