15 Dec 2021

Lower North Island residents asked to watch out for wallabies

5:21 pm on 15 December 2021

The Greater Wellington Regional Council is asking the public to look out for wallabies in Upper Hutt and Featherston after it found several Dama Wallaby corpses in the Pakuratahi Forest and near Kaitoke Regional Park.

Dama wallaby corpses have been discovered at two locations in the Pakuratahi Forest and near Kaitoke Regional Park, prompting fears the pest species may be establishing itself in the area.

Dama wallaby corpses have been discovered in two Greater Wellington Region locations, prompting fears the pest species may be establishing itself in the area. Photo: Department of Conservation

Biosecurity manager Davor Bejakovich said the call followed extensive day and night inspections and the installation of trail cameras for surveillance.

The council had also taken DNA and eDNA (environmental DNA) samples from faeces found during searches, and water.

"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."

Bejakovich said the council would follow up all reported sightings.

He said wallabies could prevent the regeneration of native bush and deplete forest understorey, with possible impacts on water quality. They could also damage and deplete tall tussock grassland vegetation to bare ground, increasing the risk of soil erosion.

"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."

Dama wallabies are grey-to-reddish-brown kangaroo-like marsupials, about 0.5m tall. Most are 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 is an opportunity for people to help protect our environment by reporting any signs or sightings of wallabies."

Anyone who sees a wallaby should report it on [www.reportwallabies.nz reportwallabies.nz] or call the Pests and Diseases line (0800 80 99 66).

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