Media release

Getting the jump on foreign invaders

Wednesday 8 June 2016

Otago Regional Council is calling on the public to keep their eyes out for wallabies and report any sightings of the pest animal.

Director of environmental monitoring and operations Scott MacLean said that while there is no known breeding population of wallabies in Otago, they are present across South Canterbury, and there is a chance that these pests could spread from South Canterbury, either naturally or by intentional release.

“Bennett’s wallabies were introduced from Tasmania into the Hunters Hills near Waimate in the 19th century for recreational hunting and have reached large proportions in some areas of South Canterbury,” explained Mr MacLean.

“They compete for pasture and impact our native biodiversity. They can also damage young trees and crops.”

Mr MacLean said that wallabies had recently been spotted in and around Oamaru and other parts of North Otago, in locations far enough away from South Canterbury to suggest they had been intentionally released.

“It is extremely disappointing to think that someone may be illegally releasing wallabies, given the significant potential impact to the rural economy and local biodiversity values,” he said.

“There are significant penalties under the Biosecurity Act for knowingly releasing wallabies and an offender could face a penalty of up to 5 years imprisonment and/or, up to a $100,000 fine.”

The Otago Pest Management Plan requires the public to report wallaby sightings to Otago Regional Council within two working days.

Mr MacLean said reporting allowed the council to monitor wallaby populations in the region and put control measures in place if needed. The plan also requires wallabies to be destroyed if sighted.

“If you see a wallaby on your property and are able to safely destroy it, we certainly ask that you do so - but you still need to report the sighting to us so we are aware of where wallabies have been present.”

“If you’re unable to destroy it then let ORC know where you’ve spotted it as soon as you can to enable us to undertake further surveillance if necessary.”


For more information contact

Scott MacLean
Director environmental monitoring and operations
027 4119459