Magpies are widespread throughout Southland except for Stewart Island/Rakiura and offshore islands. Magpie control on Stewart Island has prevented establishment there.

What is it?

Magpies area large distinctive black and white bird and a recent introduction to Southland. They have a flute-like call often heard during early morning or evening.

What is the problem?

Magpies impact biodiversity by aggressively attacking native birds, restricting their range, feeding and breeding activities. They also feed on native species of lizards and invertebrates. Magpies are territorial during breeding (August to November) and have adverse effects on the community when they swoop at people to defend territories.

How to control it

Control MethodExample
TrappingLive capture traps (larsen cage). Most effective once a live 'call' bird is caught.
ShootingFor rural landowners only with a firearms licence. Should be used sparingly as remaining birds quickly become wary. Most effective using a shotgun, with a magpie distress call recording or decoy.

For details on control methods, see our factsheet on magpies.


Magpies are a suppression animal on mainland Southland. They are too well established to eradicate from the mainland, so the aim is to suppress their numbers to minimise impacts on the community and the environment. Magpies are an exclusion animal on Stewart Island/Rakiura and offshore islands.


No person shall keep in captivity, sell, breed, transport or release live magpies on or to Stewart Island/Rakiura or any other offshore island within Southland. For a full explanation of the rules for magpies see the Regional Pest Management Strategy.

Page reviewed: 06 May 2016 4:22pm