A couple were brought to tears yesterday after being told their rooks could live for another year.

Trudy and Richard Burgess had been protesting against the poisoning of the rooks on their farm, which was a part of the Hawke's Bay Regional Council's aerial rook control programme.

"I cried. What a relief, this is such good news for these beautiful black birds and we hope they relocate and come and find us after we leave."

The couple applied on the basis of humanitarian grounds to have their rookery left alone for the year due to the added stress of Mrs Burgess's father dying and putting their farm on the market.


"I had so many sleepless nights knowing the rooks were going to be poisoned soon. I wake up to them each morning and hear them calling in the tree. It's so comforting."

The birds had moved closer to their home and were roosting near the chicken coop, which Mrs Burgess said was their way of calling for help.

"I hope they can find us again. It would take them about 12 days to fly as far as Marlborough at 30 kms a day."

Since going public about her stance last year she received support from Orit Barusch in Israel, who owned a rook sanctuary and Arian Wallach who was fighting to save indigenous species in Australia.

"We want them here, they are a part of the farm's ecosystem. Chemicals don't work to control grass grub, which start to rise to the surface about the same time that the rooks' breeding season starts."

However, under the council's Pest Management Strategy 2013 all rooks north of State Highway 5 are to be eradicated and south of the state highway are to be kept below 7000 in number.

The strategy said rooks were initially introduced to control pasture pests, but their usefulness for this purpose was now considerably outweighed by the damage caused to agricultural crops and soils.

"For the majority of the year, rooks feed in small groups on soil invertebrates," the strategy said.

A Hawke's Bay Regional Council spokeswoman said its team carefully considered that it could work the control on neighbouring properties and avoid working on Olrig Station for another year.

"We will be interested in what submissions on the rook control programme will say and we'll keep you in touch on that early in 2018," the spokeswoman said.

Under the Biosecurity Act 1993 all land occupiers who have rooks nesting on their land have to take reasonable steps to ensure no action is taken other than by an authorised person pursuant to this strategy to disturb the birds in the rookeries. A breach of this rule was an offence under section 154 of the Biosecurity Act 1993.