A number of Hibiscus Coast residents were surprised to receive a letter from Auckland Council recently, indicating that helicopters would be looking for wallabies in the area.
The aerial survey, which included parts of Ōrewa, Wainui and Puhoi, was carried out June 7-19.
Council’s head of natural environment delivery, Phil Brown, says it was in response to four possible wallaby sightings over the past five years in the region.
“While we doubt wallabies are actually present, we are obliged to ensure they haven’t been released into the area,” Mr Brown says. “It is more cost effective to prevent a pest from establishing than to have to control them later.”
Aerial surveys use thermal imaging, allowing large areas to be covered quickly and more cost effectively than by foot. The work cost around $9000, which is part-funded from the environmental targeted rate.
No wallabies were sighted this time, but Mr Brown says further surveys in areas not already covered are possible.
Wallabies were introduced to NZ in the late 1800s, mainly for sport and the value of their skin. They have become a significant pest and damage native plants, according to the Ministry of Primary Industries. Most are found in the wider Rotorua Lakes area and in South Canterbury, but they have also spread into neighbouring areas.