Introduction

The Department of Conservation (DOC) is offering a reward for sighting information that leads to the capture of a pest bird - the red vented bulbul.

Highlights

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Date:  09 October 2013

The Department of Conservation (DOC) is offering a reward for sighting information that leads to the capture of a pest bird – the red vented bulbul – that threatens our native birds and fruit and vegetable crops.

"DOC is offering a $300 reward to anyone who provides information that leads to the capture of a red-vented bulbul, an invasive pest bird from Asia," says DOC spokesperson Liz Brooks.

Red-vented bulbul in Auckland.
Photo of a red-vented bulbul taken in Auckland in July 2013

"We think there are at least five red-vented bulbuls in Auckland and it's believed they arrived by ship or yacht."

"These prolific breeders have been found in Auckland twice before and successfully eradicated. They're back and we need to act fast to ensure they don't have time to make themselves at home," says Liz Brooks.

Red vented bubul.
Photo of a red-vented bulbul taken overseas

The red-vented bulbul is one of the most invasive bird species in the world and in New Zealand is listed as an unwanted organism under the Biosecurity Act 1993. The maximum penalty for importing, trading, releasing, exhibiting or breeding a red-vented bulbul is five years in prison or a fine of $100,000.

DOC is working with the Ministry for Primary Industries and Auckland Council to track down and eradicate the red-vented bulbul confirmed to be in Auckland.

Red-vented bulbuls are confirmed to be located in three clusters in Auckland: south Auckland (Manurewa/ Alfriston), west Auckland (Henderson / Te Atatu / Massey) and on the North Shore (Devonport / Belmont / Takapuna). There's also been a confirmed sighting on the Whangaparaoa Peninsula.

There have also been unconfirmed sightings in Orakei, in central Auckland, and at Walton, between Morrinsville and Matamata in Waikato.

"We need help from the public to track and eradicate these pest birds, that threaten our native birds and fruit and vegetable crops," says Liz Brooks.

"We're asking people in the Auckland region and Waikato to keep an eye and an ear out for red-vented bulbuls. They have a very distinctive call, unlike other birds you normally hear around Auckland or the Waikato."

"If you think you've spotted one please call 0800 80 99 66, MPI's free Exotic Pest and Disease Hotline and provide the location of the sighting. If possible take a photo of the bird you think is a red-vented bulbul."

"To encourage people to look and listen for red-vented bulbuls DOC is offering a $300 reward to anyone who rings 0800 80 99 66 and provides sighting information that leads to our response team capturing a red-vented bulbul. The payout will go to the person who provides the first sighting report that leads directly to a successful capture by the response team. A reward winning report will need to be received within the one month reward period."

The reward for this sighting information will be available for one month from Thursday October 10 to Sunday November 10.

Red-vented bulbul are easy to spot. They are a medium-sized bird, around 20 centimetres long, about the size of a starling. They have a black head, a dark back, grey-white belly, and a distinctive crimson-red patch beneath their tail.

Contact

For media enquiries contact:

Email: media@doc.govt.nz

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