The Otago Regional Council (ORC) Biosecurity Team is asking the community to let them know ‘Where’s Wally?’ to help find
and control Bennett’s wallabies in the region.
Wallaby numbers in Otago are still very low, which makes tracking down these highly mobile animals over such a vast area
challenging, according to Environmental Officer Simon Stevenson.
“It can be a bit like trying to find a needle in a haystack—when you haven’t found the haystack yet.
“Reports from the public of any wallaby sightings are a massive help in our efforts to find and control this pest before
numbers get out of hand,” he said.
Wallabies damage native bush regeneration and harm young trees. They also compete with livestock for pasture, damage
crops and fences. Wallabies have the potential to significantly negatively impact the biodiversity values and economy of
“A single female has the potential to establish a breeding population of three. A female wallaby can, through what’s
called embryonic diapause, have one joey developing in her pouch while also carrying another fertilised embryo ‘on hold’
until the joey is no longer dependant on her,” Mr Stevenson said.
“Primarily, we use an indicator dog to follow up on wallaby sightings from the public, in order to find and destroy
wallabies in Otago. But there are some pretty innovative new technologies in the works as well.”
New methods to find wallabies being trialled in Otago include aerial and ground based thermal imaging and AI thermal
cameras which can learn to recognise a wallaby.
ORC is also awaiting approval on operational plans for the $27 million funding boost announced by the government for the
Ministry for Primary Industries to get populations of wallabies in the Bay of Plenty, Waikato, Canterbury and Otago
If you spot a wallaby dead or alive, or signs of wallabies, report it to ORC as soon as possible by filling out the form
on online at www.orc.govt.nz/wallaby
or by calling 0800 474 082.