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Wallabies in the wild near you?

Dama wallaby. PHOTO/STOCK.ADOBE.COM

Several dama wallaby corpses have been recovered in the Pakuratahi Forest and near Kaitoke Regional Park. Greater Wellington Regional Council [GWRC] is now urging residents to keep an eye out for the hopping marsupial.

GWRC said it wanted people in and around Featherston and Upper Hutt to be on the lookout for the pests.

GWRC biosecurity manager Davor Bejakovich encouraged anyone who thought they had spotted wallabies, or signs of their presence, to visit reportwallabies.nz or call the pests and diseases line 0800 80 99 66 and report the sighting

“We will follow up all reported sighting as it is critical to ensure wallabies do not establish themselves in our region.”

Bejakovich said wallabies could cause significant adverse environmental effects, including preventing the regeneration of native bush and depleting forest understorey, with possible impacts on water quality.

“They can damage and deplete tall tussock grassland vegetation to bare ground, increasing the risk of soil erosion.”

He said the call for the public’s help came after extensive day and night inspections and the installation of trail cameras to the area.

Forest and Bird said in 2019 that wallabies could spread to cover a third of the country unless the government steps in to fund a beefed-up control programme.

Environment Canterbury said wallabies occupied about 300,000 hectares of land in South Canterbury, centred in the Hunter Hills, but including the Two Thumb Range, the Kirkleston and the Grampian mountains.

“At present, wallabies usually occur at low and moderate densities with some localised areas of high densities.”

Bejakovich said DNA and EDNA samples had been taken from the water and faeces found during searches in the areas.

“So far, we’ve not found further wallabies but we’re hoping local landowners, residents and park users will keep the area under surveillance so that we can be sure wallabies haven’t settled in the area.

“Not everyone is aware that wallaby populations exist in the wild in New Zealand so we’re distributing signs and other material throughout the area to build awareness and encourage people to report sightings.”

Bejakovich said dama wallabies were grey to reddish brown kangaroo-like marsupials standing around 0.5m tall with tails as long as half their height.

He said most were found in the wider Rotorua Lakes area, with the larger Bennett’s wallaby found in South Canterbury. Both species are spreading into neighbouring areas.

“We need to keep them out of this region and the community can be assured that we will do what’s necessary to protect our environment against their establishment.”

Bejakovich said this was an an opportunity for people to help protect the environment by reporting any signs or sightings of wallabies.

He said they had no idea where the wallabies had come from.

“We’re hoping that public notification may provide more evidence.”

Bejakovich said anyone who saw what they believe is a wallaby should report it to reportwallabies.nz.

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