A daunting image showing scores of ghostly wallaby silhouettes in a Rotorua paddock has shocked social media users.
The image, shared by the Bay of Plenty Regional Council, was posted to show the impact established populations of the pest have on farmers.
It showed a field with dozens of wallaby bodies illuminated in the shot.
Federated Farmers Rotorua-Taupo provincial president Colin Guyton explained to the Rotorua Daily Post that the Australian import could have the same devastating impact as rabbits.
Although these beasts were bigger and needed a heartier meal, he said.
"Wallabies would also eat young native plants and could be extremely harmful to our native species."
He said it was key to control populations as he believed they could "explode" like rabbits.
He said it was better to "hit the problem now before it is too late".
Comments on the regional council's post were mixed.
"Oh wow, never seen one before. Thought they were a bit of a rarity," one person said.
Another said: "Yup, there's heaps of them! Dad got 24 in one night at his place in Manawahe not too long ago. Bet it didn't even make a dent."
Others expressed a desire to fill their freezer with wallaby meat and some suggested the meat as pet food.
In response to the comments on its post, the council explained in 2020 that the wallaby programme ran a contractor procurement process and a new intake of contractors was planned for 2023.
"Due to safety considerations and privacy implications the programme can't manage private hunters and access to the private properties."
In 2020 as part of the Jobs for Nature funding, $27 million was allocated over a four-year period to control wallabies in New Zealand.
The dama wallaby programme in the North Island is being delivered through partnerships with the Department of Conservation, Bay of Plenty Regional Council, Waikato Regional Council, iwi, landowners and the community.
The council suggested the New Zealand Deerstalkers Association branches might be well placed to provide advice on accessing wallaby-infested properties, and the Department of Conservation would provide information on hunting on public land.
It also said there is an established pet food industry that buys wallaby meat.
"Around the world, regardless of the pest, "bounty" type incentives have not proven valuable/feasible in significantly reducing pest numbers."
Information on the council website says dama wallabies were first released near Lake Ōkāreka in 1912.
"Since then they have been steadily expanding their distribution."
It was estimated that if no control work is undertaken, a third of the North Island could be impacted by the spread of wallabies within 50 years.
What to do if you spot a wallaby
Reporting the wallaby is a way everyone in New Zealand can help protect the environment and treasured biodiversity.
The public can report any sightings of wallabies anywhere in New Zealand to www.reportwallabies.nz.