Dogs on display at Council Chambers

Media Release - 01 February 2019

ORC staff are using indicator dogs to sniff out Wallabies.

ORC Senior Environmental Officer Kevin Allan gave a presentation to Otago Regional Council yesterday, on how he and fellow Environmental Officer Simon Stevenson use indicator dogs to find wallabies. Their dogs Jedi and Gizmo are trained to lead staff to wallabies and give an indication when they have found something. This method allows wallabies to be identified without alerting them to staff presence, ensuring a control plan can then be put in place.

The method of using indicator dogs has proved critical in several successful wallaby control operations near Naseby and in North Otago last year.

When reported wallaby incidents over Otago increased from 2016, Kevin and Simon, who have an extensive background in pest control, moved to full-time wallaby control. This was the first time dogs were used at ORC to assist with wallaby control.

The dogs are trained not to stray more than a few metres away and also respond to hand signals, enabling Simon and Kevin to stay as quiet as possible while stalking wallabies.

Wallabies damage native bush regeneration and harm young trees. They also compete with livestock for pasture, damage crops and fences. Wallabies have the potential to significantly negatively impact the biodiversity values and economy of Otago.

Environmental Officer Simon Stevenson told Council, “Finding and eradicating just one wallaby can be hugely beneficial. One pregnant female can establish a small population in a new area and we want to prevent this happening.”

An adult female wallaby with an at-foot joey was among the animals destroyed near Naseby recently and evidence of a joey was also identified in North Otago, which indicates that wallabies are trying to establish themselves in the region.

Mr Stevenson said, “Wallaby numbers in Otago are still very low. Tracking down these highly mobile, cryptic animals over such a vast area is very challenging, so any reported sightings from the public are a massive help to us.”

If you spot a wallaby dead or alive, or signs of wallabies, report it to ORC by filling out the form on their website www.orc.govt.nz/wallaby or calling 0800 474 082.

 

 

Simon Stevenson (Environmental Officer North Otago) and Jedi at Philip Laing House yesterday

Jedi poses before a wallaby banner at Philip Laing House yesterday.

For more information contact

Peter Winder 
Acting Director Environmental Monitoring and Operations 
021 657 048 
peterwinder@orc.govt.nz

 

Communications contact

Emma Schranz 
Senior Media Advisor 
027 627 5894
emma.schranz@orc.govt.nz

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