Live wallaby caught in Invercargill

The discovery of a live wallaby in a city backyard in Invercargill has raised concerns that people don’t understand the risk these pests pose to the region.

A resident in North Invercargill was shocked when she discovered it was a marsupial in her neighbour’s property that was disturbing her dog and called the SPCA.

Environment Southland biosecurity manager Richard Bowman says the neighbour was unaware of the unexpected visitor and didn’t know where it had come from.

“The wallaby was young and reasonably tame, so it is possible somebody had been keeping it as a pet and it had escaped.

“We have since learnt that the wallaby has been handed over to a wildlife park in South Canterbury which accepts orphaned animals.”

He says wallabies are a pest animal under Southland’s current Regional Pest Management Strategy, with the rules meaning nobody can possess or sell a wallaby within the Southland region without a permit. It is also against the rules to transport a wallaby into or within the region and anybody who sees a wallaby must report it to Environment Southland.

Wild wallabies haven’t been identified in Southland, but are causing significant problems in South Canterbury.

Wallabies cause damage to native forests and compete with cattle and sheep for pasture. They are capable of reaching very high population numbers and could establish in parts of Southland, having a significant economic and environmental impact.

“We know people might think they are cute and in some cases, hunters may have shot wallabies further north and discovered a joey in a pouch, which they have then brought home to keep as a pet, without realising the implications,” Mr Bowman says.

SPCA Southland chairperson Rachel Hucklebridge says the wallaby was one of the more unusual calls they had received and while it was very cute, she was very aware of their pest status in Southland.

Anybody who spots a wallaby in the region should contact Environment Southland or the SPCA.

Page reviewed: 14 Nov 2016 12:00am