We will find you and we will kill you - that is the message the Otago Regional Council is set to issue today to Bennett's wallabies that enter Otago.

Chief executive Peter Bodeker has asked the council to sign off immediately on $273,050 of unbudgeted expenditure to control the pest, as they march south.

The council would use "regular, structured search-and-destroy operations and ongoing surveillance" to deal with any incursions, he said in his report seeking approval for the spending.

The council's pest management plan that aimed to stop wallabies establishing in Otago by requiring that all wallabies seen be destroyed by land occupiers and/or reported to the council, but it was not enough, he said.


The wallabies had spread faster than expected and a more "thorough strategic surveillance/control programme" was needed.

The bulk of the money, $198,050, would pay for "the thick end" of two fulltime staff, and some auxiliary staff, but the money, to come from council reserves, would also cover bait stations, specialist contractors and helicopter hire.

But the ORC could not do it all itself and wanted to adopt a partnership model with the community and other agencies such as the Maniototo Pest Company.

A level of community "in-kind" support was required for the programme to be truly successful, Mr Bodecker said.

An example would be cost sharing for helicopter hire and staff to help farmers track down animals they had seen on their properties.

Increased costs for wallaby control would be written in to future budgets.

A map attached to the report showed potential migration routes for the animals and reported sightings on Otago's side of the regional boundary with Environment Canterbury, including a cluster of sightings in coastal North Otago and some as far south as Galloway, near Alexandra, and Evansdale, just north of Dunedin.

The marsupial was introduced in South Canterbury for recreational hunting.


Lincoln-based Landcare Research research leader Bruce Warburton has said that if control was not increased the wallaby, in a worst-case scenario, could cover one-third of the South Island, including establishing populations around Dunedin.

Environment Canterbury biosecurity team leader Brent Glentworth has said three wallabies ate as much as one sheep and the two animals had a strong overlap in diet.