Wallaby tracks found near Alex
Wallaby tracks have been discovered on a farm near Alexandra.
Otago Regional Council environmental managing director Scott MacLean said a landowner noticed up to three tracks in the snow on his property at Galloway, in Central Otago, about three weeks ago.
‘‘There were three different tracks together that varied in size - a couple of adults and potentially a juvenile .’’
The landowner tracked them as far as he could in the snow, then lost them, MacLean said.
‘‘He made contact with us but did quite a bit of his own surveillance with a helicopter.’’
Originally, the Otago Regional Council agreed with the landowner and the Maniototo Pest Company to wait until a significant snowfall to catch the pest animals.
‘‘But that didn’t eventuate so now we are looking at other options. We haven’t completely decided what we are going to do.’’
Options included a remote sensor camera or potentially putting people on the ground with dogs, he said.
‘‘We are working closely with the landowner and the Maniototo Pest Company, pooling resources and working collaboratively. We don’t know if it is an isolated inci- dent. The landowner has only seen signs of them. He has never seen wallabies before so it may indicate it is an isolated few animals.’’
They were treating the matter with urgency.
‘‘We are taking it very seriously. We have 100 per cent confidence the landowner knows exactly what he is looking at and we are extremely serious about preventing the establishment of a breeding population of wallabies in Central Otago.’’
There was no known breeding population of wallabies in Otago, but they were present across South Canterbury and could spread either naturally or by intentional release.
‘‘Bennett’s wallabies were introduced from Tasmania into the Hunters Hills near Waimate in the 19th century for recreational hunting and have reached large proportions in some areas of South Canterbury. They compete for pasture and impact our native biodiversity. They can also damage young trees and crops.’’
Penalties for knowingly releasing wallabies included up to five years’ imprisonment and/or up to a $100,000 fine.
Wallaby tracks have been discovered near Alexandra, in Central Otago.
Devon Lambeth started at Clyde Primary School on August 5