Sightings of wallabies

Wallabies may have been seen just north of Haast. Photo: supplied
Wallabies may have been seen just north of Haast. Photo: supplied
Two possible sightings of wallabies north of Haast are concerning, the Department of Conservation says.

Wallabies are an introduced pest in New Zealand, threatening the environment, biodiversity and economy in Canterbury, North Otago and and Bay of Plenty-Waikato.

Department of Conservation (Doc) South Westland operations manager Wayne Costello said there had been two reported wallaby sightings on the West Coast in recent months. Both were made by people travelling on SH6 south of Knights Point.

"These are the first serious wallaby sightings we’ve had on the Coast. It’s a concern as wallabies are capable of causing significant environmental damage. In native forests they eat seedlings and graze the understory, changing the structure of the forest, which destroys the homes and food of our native wildlife," he said.

The most recent report was made by someone who had experience with wallabies in Australia, he said.

"The community is key to preventing wallabies establishing a foothold on the West Coast. As wallabies are nocturnal, we want anyone travelling at night in the Knights Point area to keep an eye out and report any sightings."

The most common wallaby in the South Island, the Bennett’s wallaby, stands up to 80cm tall and weighs 14kg-20kg. Their droppings are about 20mm long and tend to be pear-shaped, although this can vary.

Mr Costello said the only way wallabies could have got to the Coast was by people bringing them there.