Wallabies big concern

Forest and Bird says the Government urgently needs to fund the eradication of wallabies. Photo:...
Forest and Bird says the Government urgently needs to fund the eradication of wallabies. Photo: ODT files
Otago needs to ''be more political'' in getting Government support for tackling wallabies in the region, an Otago Regional councillor says.

The debate about wallaby control was renewed at the weekend with the start of a campaign from Forest and Bird.

It said the Government urgently needed to fund the eradication of the pest before its populations reached ''plague proportions''.

Otago Regional councillor Graeme Bell said it was known wallabies were becoming established in the Naseby Forest.

He was ''particularly strong'' on getting Government support for the problem, he said.

''We've got to be more political, getting on to the politicians and pushing the Government to get some sophisticated equipment.''

This included infra-red technology to trace them more easily.

''I'm disappointed the Government hasn't taken this seriously. It's of national importance.''

Council chairman Stephen Woodhead said the council pushed for the Government to include funding for a national wallaby control strategy in its budget, but was unsuccessful.

He said a lot of money was spent by the council on reacting to public sightings of the pest, and perhaps it needed to revisit how it dealt with them.

Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage said there were ''no known populations'' in the region, but there were increasing sightings in areas including Naseby, Tarras and Macraes.

The Department of Conservation supported the Otago Regional Council by providing information about sightings, but it did not undertake active control or monitoring of wallaby numbers in the region, she said.

''Improving wallaby control is on the Government's radar. Regional councils, the Department of Conservation, Biosecurity New Zealand and farmers are working together to develop a strategy to tackle the problem.''

jono.edwards@odt.co.nz

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