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Rural communities asked to look for rooks

Press Release – Greater Wellington Regional Council
The regional council is calling out to rural communities in the Greater Wellington region to ‘look for rooks’ in its annual awareness campaign.

A large, glossy, purplish-black bird with a harsh call, rooks cause significant damage to agricultural crops by destroying newly sprouted crops’ seedlings and reducing crop yields.

With less predictable weather patterns also making crops more vulnerable, reducing rook numbers becomes increasingly important to ensure our regions food security, when viewed through the lens of a changing climate.

Adding in the risk of these unplanned, potentially volatile weather events that could further damage crops, the consequences of not controlling rooks, become far greater for our region.

Greater Wellington Climate Committee Chair Councillor Thomas Nash says “Protecting crops from additional damage is not only important to the economic wellbeing of our region’s primary production, but is also important for resilience to climate change in this sector.”

Every year, as part of our Regional Pest Management Plan, Greater Wellington’s biosecurity team work with local and neighbouring councils to monitor and control this pest bird.

While rook numbers are down, with Greater Wellington reporting an 86% decrease in rook population over the last 10 years. Glen Falconer, Pest Animals Team Leader at the regional council, urges landowners to report any sightings on their land; “there aren’t many left, but we need help from landowners to make sure the population doesn’t persist or have opportunities to re-establish and grow.”

People are most likely to spot a rook nest (rookery) in large exotic trees such as pines or gums, and sometimes near buildings or houses.

Senior Biosecurity Officer Steven Playle says “while we want our community’s assistance with monitoring rooks, rook control is a specialist task which needs to be done by a Greater Wellington Biosecurity Officer. Attempting to do this yourself can make the problem worse, or cause unnecessary distress to the birds.”

Members of the public who have spotted rooks or a rookery can get in touch with the council on 0800 496 734 or email pest.animals@gw.govt.nz

 

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