A large hare is thought to have been behind a ‘wallaby’ sighting in Babylon Coast Road, near Dargaville, earlier this month.
Northland Regional Council biosecurity staff undertook surveillance in the immediate vicinity, but found no trace of any wallabies, wallaby scat or chewing signs.
“A hare’s head is a similar size and skin colour to a wallaby, and when a large hare sits motionless it’s understandable how mistaken identity can occur,” a spokesperson said.
There are no known wallaby populations in Northland. However, they are found on Kawau Island, in the Rotorua Lakes area and in North Otago and South Canterbury.
Wallabies are unwanted because they eat native and exotic seedlings and pasture, making them potentially costly to the farming and forestry sectors and posing a risk to native bush, as they can limit the regeneration of some species.
The Ministry of Primary Industries estimates that in 2016, the total population of wallabies in NZ was in the “hundreds of thousands, if not millions”. In 2020, a $27 million national programme was established to address the wallaby problem.
Eradication work on Kawau Island is not funded at this stage, but the programme is working with Auckland Council to support its multi-pest programme on the island, including sharing research insights and operational best practice.