Canada geese are one of the more detectable pest animals in New Zealand.
Even when out of sight, their honking call is distinctive.
The birds themselves are a common sight in many parts of the country, as they feed during daylight in open areas. In comparison, many of our other pest species are much less visible, being nocturnal, well camouflaged and/or secretive in their behaviour.
Canada geese are easily recognised for their large size. Adults measure 850 to 950 mm in beak-to-tail length.
Bark damage is often a clearly visible animal pest sign but identifying the culprit is not always easy – as Roger Young found at his property on the outskirts of Christchurch.
After returning from holiday earlier this year, Roger was dismayed to see a lot of damage on some lowland ribbonwood (Plagianthus regius) trees in his restored wetland. He at first suspected possums because they had repeatedly stripped bark from gum trees elsewhere on his property and he had trapped a good many in that area. Normally, he would have been checking his property daily and would have noticed the damage before it became so extensive.
It’s breeding season for rooks, which means it is more likely you will see this unwanted organism. If you do, report your sightings to the local regional council but don’t go near the birds.
Rooks are intelligent and extremely wary of anything new or unusual. If they become suspicious, they will move to a new location, which can impede ongoing efforts to eradicate the species in New Zealand.
When the Pickard family set up a tracking tunnel in their back yard in Arrowtown they expected to get rat prints but the only clear print they got didn’t look right. So they sent this photo to us at Pest Detective and asked what we thought.
It wasn’t a complete paw print but there was enough evidence to suggest it was a hedgehog’s.
When it comes to controlling animal pests in New Zealand, it’s essential to keep watching out for signs that they are present and, especially, signs that they are increasing in numbers or spreading.
The principle of continual observation is the key message in this year’s Biosecurity Week theme, ’20-20 Vigilance’. The sooner we see signs of increased threat, the sooner we can take effective action.
A new book is set to inspire and empower New Zealand kids to be naturalists and conservationists – including being pest detectives.
Author Gillian Chandler wrote New Zealand Nature Heroes to encourage children to become citizen scientists, actively engaged with their local environment.
The book emphasises the importance of observation in nature conservation and suggests varied activities that children can undertake for themselves.
Detecting pest animals is one such activity. There are simple instructions on how to make tracking tunnels and chew cards, with a link to our Pest Detective website for help on identifying the animal signs observed.