Wallabies on the loose

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Wallabies are on the loose in Mid Canterbury. Photo Supplied.
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Wallaby hunters and their dogs are on a search and destroy mission in Mid Canterbury.

Contracted by Environment Canterbury, the hunters searching for the pest marsupials are also using thermal cameras.

Wallaby programme lead Brent Glentworth said recently the regional council had confirmed the presence of wallaby scat in the Mt Somers and Woolshed Creek/Stour Stream area.

Is the first confirmed evidence of wallabies in Mid Canterbury since 2007, when ECan staff found and destroyed one in the Lake Emily area following a landowner report.

‘‘It’s probable that a small number of wallabies may be present, and we are actively looking for them,’’ Glentworth said.

Wallabies are not allowed outside a containment area bordered by the Waitaki, Tekapo and Rangitata rivers, due to the serious economic and environmental damage they cause.

‘‘They are very hungry pests, compete with livestock for food, and damage crops and fences. They also eat seedlings in commercial and native forests.’’

Wallaby sightings are rare in Mid Canterbury.

Besides the one caught in 2007, there have been occasional sightings since, including from Department of Conservation staff.

‘‘However, no wallabies have been found as a result of those reports.’’

ECan works as part of a national programme to stop wallabies spreading outside of the containment area.

‘‘We respond to any wallaby sightings outside of that area to ensure no breeding populations establish, including in Mid Canterbury.

‘‘Once we stop the spread of wallabies from the containment area, and eliminate outlier populations, we intend to progressively reduce densities within containment. Our aim is to eradicate them, but this will likely require new tools to help manage populations.’’

Public reports were critical to stopping their spread.

Report any sightings or signs online at reportwallabies.nz, or phone Biosecurity Timaru (03) 687-7800 or toll-free 0800 324 636.