Population spreading

The Wallaby containment area. Map: Environment Canterbury
The Wallaby containment area. Map: Environment Canterbury
Bennett’s wallabies are up to 80cm tall and weigh 15kg to 25kg.

They occupy more than 450,000ha of land in South Canterbury, centred on The Hunters Hills, Albury, Kirkliston, and Two Thumb Range.

More recently, wallabies have spread south of the Waitaki River and west of Lakes Benmore and Tekapo.

Wallaby populations are not known to exist in the wild north of the Rangitata River.

WHY ARE THEY A PEST?

Bennett’s wallabies (also known as red-necked wallabies) compete with livestock for food and limit farms’ livestock-carrying capacity.

They foul sheep feed, destroy agricultural crops and plantation forestry, and damage fences.

They also prevent the regeneration of native bush and deplete forest understoreys.

WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR CONTROL?

Land occupiers within the ECan Wallaby Containment Area are required to maintain wallaby numbers on their land at or below level 3 on the Guilford Scale, which assesses population levels:

1. No faecal or track sign seen but area known to be within feral range of wallabies.

2. Infrequent faecal sign seen. Track sign absent. One or two pellet groups seen when traversing 100m. Unlikely to see any wallabies.

3. Frequent faecal and track sign seen, but only in isolated pockets. Likely to see some wallabies.

4. Faecal and track sign very obvious and consistent. Tracks well used. High probability of seeing wallabies.

5. High densities of faecal and track sign distributed almost uniformly. Tracks well used. High probability of seeing wallabies.

ECan carries out inspections within the containment area and may help to co-ordinate control work between multiple landowners.

Outside the containment area, ECan is responsible for ensuring wallaby populations do not become established.

Wallabies cannot be kept as pets or be moved around the region.

CONTROL OPTIONS

Night shooting can help maintain low wallaby numbers. Neighbours should be informed where and when shooting will take place.

Shooting from a helicopter, particularly after heavy snow, can be effective in open, tall tussock areas.

Two poisons are available for use on Bennett’s wallabies — 1080 cereal pellets or Feratox (encapsulated cyanide).

Reliance on any one method, or not tailored to the level of infestation, can lead to reduced kills and ‘‘educated’’ shy wallaby populations.

For higher wallaby levels, it is best practise to pre-feed and poison, then to use shooting as follow-up control.

Anyone who sees a wallaby, dead or alive, outside the Wallaby Containment Area should phone ECan immediately or go online to www.ecan.govt.nz/wallaby to report the sighting.

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