Media release

Rook eradication in Otago - On the path to success

Tuesday 4 September 2018

The Otago Regional Council’s pest control programme has reduced rook numbers to around 40 with evidence suggesting that there is no longer a breeding population in Otago. Rooks, originally introduced to control insects in New Zealand, are considered a pest due to the extensive damage they can cause to crops and new grass.

Historic nesting sites are inspected every year including Maniototo, Middlemarch, Strath Taieri, and South Otago around Clinton and Clydevale.

ORC Environmental Monitoring Officer Malcolm Allan estimates that rook numbers have stayed at approximately 40 birds or less since 2016, and there is still no evidence of any chicks being born.

ORC Director of Environmental Monitoring and Operations, Scott MacLean said, “It’s a case of no news is good news. We really appreciate the support from the community for our programme over the years, with reporting and sighting of rooks being integral in the reduction of their population.”

Rooks nest in Spring, which makes it the best time to spot them. ORC asks that people don’t attempt to shoot at or scare any rooks they may encounter, as there is often only one chance to deal with them. If the birds are frightened they can scatter and form new rookeries.

Rooks are part of the crow and raven family, they are completely black and larger than magpies. Their feathers can have a purple or bluish-purple sheen in bright light. Any members of the community who see rooks in Otago are asked to contact ORC Environmental Officer Malcolm Allan on 027 278 8498, or ORC at 0800 474 082 or email

Further information can be found here.

A rook nest is inspected by Malcolm Allan from ORC

A rook nest is inspected by Malcolm Allan from ORC

For more information please contact:
Scott MacLean, Director Environmental Monitoring and Operations
Ph 0800 474 082 or 027 4119459

For Comms please contact:
Emma Schranz, Senior Media Advisor
027 627 5894