© New Zealand Broadcasting School 2022

Sightings of wallabies may be linked to illegal activity

Azriel Taylor
image 6487327 v3
Wallaby lying down  Violet French

Wallabies are a pest in New Zealand, and a regional council believes some sightings may be linked to illegal releasing of the species.

'Occasional sightings' of wallabies outside of South Canterbury, has led Environment Canterbury (ECAN) to believe there may be people illegally releasing them. 

Wallabies are a problem in Canterbury for a number of reasons. 

ECAN describes their effect as 'environmentally adverse', as they destroy farmers' crops, and destroy a lot of vegetation, which can lead to an increased risk of soil erosion. 

As part of the effort to try and control the population of wallabies in Canterbury, ECAN has set a containment zone for the animal.

ECAN's Wallaby Programme Leader, Brent Glentworth, said it's believed they have been released illegally because wallabies have been found in places where they couldn't go on their own.

"New population pockets and individual wallabies have been found and destroyed in both the North and South Islands, where they would have required human assistance to have arrived there."

When asked why people would do this, Brent said some may want to establish a population.

"While there’s nothing to gain from capturing or releasing wallabies except a hefty fine, some people may consider wallabies a unique species and want to establish their own population of the animal, which is illegal."

If someone is caught breeding, selling, moving, or exhibiting wallabies without a permit, there are fines of up to $100,000 dollars, and/or five years imprisonment. 

For now, ECAN urges Canterbury residents to be vigilant, and if you see a wallaby, report it to them, to protect our environment.