University of Canterbury's new pest controller to stop pigeon problem

Marlborough Falcon Trust handler Rob Lawry and UC falcon Tappe (Supplied)
Marlborough Falcon Trust handler Rob Lawry and UC falcon Tappe (Supplied)

The University of Canterbury has unveiled a new and natural way to eradicate hundreds of pigeons that plague the campus.

Tappe, a native New Zealand falcon (kārearea), was specially bred from injured captive falcons by Marlborough Falcon Trust handlers Vikki Smith and Rob Lawry to naturally deter the pests.

The one-year-old bird has been trained to complete territorial flights around the university campus and scare away flocks of pigeons.

Large numbers of pigeons are problematic because of the amount of droppings they create. Buildings and paths are defaced and the spread of disease increases.

Students and staff at the university will get to see Tappe in action as he patrols the campus. Kārearea are known for their speed and agility and are a natural predator to pigeons. Tappe is trained to fly to a lure held by its handlers, instead of capturing the pigeons.

Birds of prey are used around the world for bird control, particularly at airports.

Taking its name from Mount Tapuae-o-Uenuku, Tappe is one of only an estimated 6000 kārearea left in New Zealand. The bird is also featured on the $20 note.

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