Wallaby warning to ORC
Central Otago farmers are pleading with the Otago Regional Council to do everything in its power to control ‘‘environmental terrorism’’ inflicted by pests.
Speaking at a council annual plan hearing at Alexandra on Monday, Maniototo Pest Management Inc chairman Philip Smith said the threat of wallabies in the Maniototo was a ‘‘major concern’’ for the 70 farmers his group represented.
‘‘They are going to destroy tussock grass lands,’’ Smith said.
‘‘We need to keep them out of Otago.’’
There had been about 30 sightings of wallabies outside the containment area near Waimate so far this year with Otago Regional Councillor Stephen Woodhead saying after the meet- ing sightings were in the single figures in Otago so far this year.
There had been two confirmed sightings in the Maniototo.
A Ministry for Primary Industries report in 2016 put the annual cost of wallaby eradication at about $23 million a year with the predicted cost if left alone ballooning to $67m over about 10 years.
The regional council had proposed to spend $274,000 from general rates this year on monitoring wallaby movements.
Woodhead said it was important to remember that farmers were responsible for pest control on their land and the council’s role was one of monitoring.
Smith said farmers appreciated funding allocated to pest control but felt it probably would not be enough.
‘‘We believe it’s basically environmental terrorism.’’
Bannockburn farmer Richard Anderson also addressed councillors on pest control saying he spends about $60,000 a year on pest control.
He asked the council not to concentrate solely on the wallaby issue.
‘‘I know you’re concerned about the wallabies ... but remember we’ve got everything else on our doorstep.
‘‘I would hate to think we are just going to spend [money] on the wallabies.’’
The Otago Regional Council had 825 draft annual plan submissions this year, up from 180 previously. About 20 people attended the Alexandra hearing on Monday with nine electing to speak to their submission.
A wallaby eating grass in Victoria Park in Waimate.