KVH receives occasional complaints that pūkeko numbers have built up and birds are getting into the orchard canopy and snipping off shoots in spring or feeding on ripening fruit before harvest. They may also pull out or damage seedlings of many plant species.
Pūkeko are partially protected and held in fond regard by many, so be sure that pūkeko are causing the problem. Also consider that it may be very difficult to effectively reduce pūkeko populations if there are wetlands, damp pasture or urban areas near your orchard.
If you do need to reduce pūkeko populations in your orchard, consider the following options:
· Scare them out of your orchard with occasional bird-scare blasts, pyrotechnics or blank shotgun ammunition. Ensure you have a firearm licence and comply with all regulations. Don’t use firearms near urban areas and consider informing neighbours or local police in any area.
· In spring, consider the use of bird repellent sprays. There are strict conditions regarding the time and rate of application.
· Pūkeko can be shot in the gamebird hunting season. Comply with all Fish and Game hunting regulations including type of firearm. If you are not the owner or occupier of the property, you will require a game licence. Follow all firearm safety rules. Firearms should not be discharged in an orchard prior to picking. If you have to shoot them, you can be more effective by taking out the lead bird. Pūkeko are smart and move around in family groups, the matriarch or patriarch can usually be identified by careful observation prior to the shoot.
· You must apply for a permit from Fish and Game if controlling pūkeko at any time out of a hunting season.
· If a perpetual problem, consider covering your orchard with netting.