Public urged to report wallaby sightings promptly
Friday, 16 October 2015 10:00 a.m.
Bay of Plenty Regional Council asks people to report wallaby sightings as soon as possible so the pest animals can be contained before they become established in new areas.
The reminder comes after reports of wallaby sightings in Ōhiwa, Ōpōtiki, Whakatāne and Pāpāmoa. Council responded to these reports by deploying a contractor with a trained wallaby-indicating dog. Two of the sightings were recent and were successfully dealt with but, where the information wasn’t immediately reported, the sightings weren’t recent and no wallaby sign was found.
“It’s really important for people to report wallaby sightings to us as soon as possible,” says council biosecurity manager Greg Corbett. “Our chance of dealing with these animals is much greater if we can get a dog on site before the scent trail goes cold.”
Given the distance these wallabies are from their known distribution points, it is likely people are moving them around and releasing them, Greg says.
“This is potentially very damaging to the environment. Should wallabies become established in Te Urewera, for example, it would have severe consequences.”
Wallabies are listed as a containment pest in the Bay of Plenty Regional Pest Management Plan and are unwanted organisms in the Biosecurity Act, which means it is an offence to move or release them. The animals cause significant damage to native bush by feeding on native seedlings, ferns and grasses. They can also cause problems for forestry and farming by feeding on pine and eucalyptus seedlings and competing with stock for pasture. Once established in native bush, wallabies feed on seedlings, altering the species composition and ultimately depriving native birds and animals of food and shelter.
Council is also concerned hunters may be shooting female wallabies and taking the joeys home as pets.
“This is an offence,” Greg says.
“People keeping wallabies as pets may also contribute to their spread as the animals have a nervous temperament and a strong drive to escape from captivity.”
The regional council controls wallabies in partnership with the Department of Conservation (DOC) and Waikato Regional Council.
Wallaby sightings can be reported by calling 0800 780 773. Wallabies are grey/brown in colour, with adult animals having a paler grey underbelly. Females weigh up to 5.5kg and males up to 7kg.