Mystery continues after dead wallabies found in Northland

11:00 am on 14 February 2024
File photo of a Dama wallaby

Photo: Supplied

How two wallabies ended up on Northland roadsides late last year is likely to remain a mystery.

The discovery of the dead wallabies - one near Kawakawa's Three Bridges on 4 December, the other a week later south of Whangārei - set alarm bells ringing among the region's biosecurity officials.

It also prompted a plea for any other sightings or information as to how the marsupial pests came to be lying 60km apart next to State Highway 1.

There have been previous sightings in Northland but the Kawakawa wallaby was the first one to be confirmed.

Northland Regional Council biosecurity manager Nicky Fitzgibbon said three people had responded to her call for other sightings, but none were in the areas where the dead wallabies were found.

One was just south of Kāeo, another at Ngāwhā Springs, and the third at an unknown location.

All three were likely to have been other species, such as hares.

Fitzgibbon said she was grateful to everyone who had got in contact.

Council staff had also spoken to staff at the petrol station in Kawakawa, close to where the wallaby was found, and set up trail cams on either side of the Three Bridges.

"But we got nothing other than a few cheeky possums and a pig," she said.

The lack of sightings lent weight to the council's theory that the wallabies were already dead, and were being transported to Northland - possibly as pet food - by a hunter when they fell from the back of a vehicle.

The discovery of a dead wallaby at Kawakawa’s Three Bridges, next to State Highway 1 in Northland, set alarm bells ringing

Photo: Supplied

The council had received clear photos of the Kawakawa wallaby, but was unable to examine it to establish the cause of death.

That was because it had already been fed to a farmer's dogs by the time the report was received.

Fitzgibbon said it would be "terrible" for Northland's agriculture and native forests if wallabies were to become established in the region.

"They eat everything, similar to goats. They strip all the new growth. This is something we take very seriously. We definitely don't want them up here."

Fitzgibbon urged anyone who saw a wallaby in Northland, dead or alive, to [ report it online] or call the Northland Regional Council environmental hotline on 0800 504 639.

She said wallabies were found on Kawau Island, just south of the Northland boundary.

Large numbers were present in the Rotorua Lakes area, North Otago and South Canterbury, where they caused serious economic and environmental damage.

In 2021 and 2022 the council received credible reports of wallabies on farmland at Waimamaku in South Hokianga.

However, despite dog searches and weeks of surveillance, no wallabies were found and there have been no further reports in the area.

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