Officials are asking the public for help after a dead wallaby was found at the side of the highway near Kawakawa this month and another dead animal was reportedly seen on the road just south of the State Highway One Maungakaramea intersection a few days later.
Nicky Fitzgibbon, Biosecurity Manager – Incursions and Response for the Northland Regional Council (NRC), says the council was alerted to reports of a dead wallaby on December 04 on the side of SH1 near Kawakawa’s three road bridges.
Two council staff had spoken to the man who had discovered the wallaby but unfortunately by the time report came through the animal had been fed to some dogs and there was no trace left of it.
Torrential rain on the day the wallaby had been picked up meant there was nothing to indicate the animal had been struck by a vehicle there.
“On considering all the evidence and speaking with the members of the public who reported it, staff are confident the report was genuine and the animal was a wallaby.”
Ms Fitzgibbon says game cameras have been set up at two properties in the wider area as a precaution but the terrain surrounding the site where the wallaby had been found was not likely to be suitable for the animal.
“It’s possible the wallaby may have been killed elsewhere and fallen from a ute or other vehicle as it was driving in Northland.”
Wallabies are found on Kawau Island, just south of Northland Regional Council’s boundary, and large numbers are present in the Rotorua Lakes area and in North Otago and South Canterbury.
Ms Fitzgibbon says adding credibility to the council’s theory the wallaby may have fallen from a vehicle was the reported sighting of another wallaby carcass on the road just south of the State Highway One Maungakaramea intersection a few days later on 11 December.
The incidents have been reported to Biosecurity New Zealand and she appealed to the public for any information that might shed light on the matter, including from anyone who may have been transporting dead wallabies into Northland or who had seen a vehicle doing so.
Wallabies are classified as an Unwanted Organism under New Zealand’s Biosecurity Act 1993 due to the significant damage they do to native bush, farms, crops, plantation forests, riparian plantings, biodiversity, and our economy. This makes it illegal to hold, move, or transport wallabies without specific authorisations.
Wallabies breed and establish easily. The illegal release of a single pregnant female can quickly create a whole new population and threat to the local economy and environments.
Live wallabies are unwanted in Northland because they eat native and exotic seedlings and pasture; making them costly to the farming and forestry sectors and posing a risk to native bush too, as they can limit the regeneration of some species.
They are formally classified as an ‘exclusion pest’ under the council’s Regional Pest Management Plan due to the serious environmental, economic, and other risks they pose.
Any, and all wallaby sightings – dead or alive – should be reported online to www.reportwallabies.nz
The most common signs of their presence are their footprints or scat (poo).
Ms Fitzgibbon says general information about a wide variety of land and water-based pests – including wallabies – is available online via www.nrc.govt.nz/pestcontrolhub