Hunt for pest birds goes high-tech

Date:

Media contact: MPI media team

Telephone: 029 894 0328

Email: media@mpi.govt.nz

Pest parakeets in the Waikato are having radio transmitters fitted so the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) can find out where they’re roosting and remove the population.

A small group of the foreign parakeets, known as Indian ringneck parakeets, have set up home in the area around Hikutaia near Paeroa.

These birds, while they look pretty, threaten our native birds and bats by competing for food and nesting spaces and potentially introducing diseases. They're also well-known agricultural pests of some cereal and fruit crops in other countries.

MPI has teamed up with the Department of Conservation and the Waikato Regional Council to capture them.

Response Manager Brad Chandler says the team has made calls for public information and spent time searching the area, but as yet, hasn’t found where the birds roost at night.

“Once we know where the birds are gathering in the evening, we can catch them with nets and remove them from the wild.”

Mr Chandler says starting on Tuesday (24 May) field teams will set out to catch a small number of the birds and fit radio-transmitters.

“Once the birds have the tiny transmitters fitted, there will be a small number of vehicles driving slowly in the area with telemetry aerials. As the birds roost at dusk, this activity might continue into the evening.

“We want the local community to know about this in case they have any concerns about what might be going on. The response team may also need to visit some specific properties if they need to get closer to the birds. If so, they will have ID and will door-knock to request access.”

Indian ringnecks are a native of Africa and India and are commonly held as captive pets in New Zealand. The Hikutaia population is suspected to be the result of caged birds escaping.

If you see any in the wild, call MPI on 0800 80 99 66.

The small parrots are about 40cm from their head to the tip of their tail. The birds seen in Hikutaia have been green or yellow, but they can also be grey or blue. Most male birds have a black line around their neck. Females and young birds don't have this marking.

Mr Chandler says if people have these birds as pets, they should not release them into the wild.

“They are classified as an Unwanted Organism, which means they can only be released with permission from MPI. Release without this permit is an offence under the Biosecurity Act 1993.”

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