Wal­laby warn­ing to ORC

Central Otago Mirror - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - RHYS CHAM­BER­LAIN

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.

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