Environment Canterbury is concerned about the numbers of wallabies outside its containment areas and is also exploring further tools to reduce or eliminate the populations to prevent further incursions south.

ECan's biosecurity team leader for the South, Brent Glentworth, said as well as encapsulated cyanide and 1080 drops, ECan was involved with the Sustainable Farming Fund's research, which looked at using thermal imaging from helicopters to detect wallabies, which looked promising.

In addition, ECan had assembled costings to see if establishing a dedicated control unit, similar to the former wallaby board, was feasible but no decision had been made yet.

ECan was also part of a group of regional councils which had put together a business case to look at how to fund wallaby control throughout New Zealand.


''At the moment shooters with dogs were the most effective way to find and destroy wallabies,'' Mr Glentworth said.

''They are very cryptic, secretive, nocturnal animals and hard to find.''

In a 2016 report, the Ministry for Primary Industries asked Landcare Research to determine what the economic impact on the national economy would be if a wallaby population was established, Landcare Research coming up with a figure of $67 million within 10 years, Mr Glentworth said.

ECan first became aware of the current wallaby problem on the south bank of the Waitaki River in 2006 and did two control programmes a year using search­and-destroy man-and-dog teams.

''Our budget is $170,000 for our inspection regime and that was increased by $90,000 in the last year.''

ECan established a containment area in 1996 and in addition, a small fence with wallaby proofing was erected to restrict access across the Aviemore Dam in 2015, Mr Glentworth said.

''We check that a couple of times a year.''

ECan also inspected the land within the containment area regularly to determine numbers, and once numbers reached level 4 on the Guilford scale, ECan could enforce the requirement that farmers control the pest on their land.

People were not allowed to transport wallabies without a licence, which is an offence against the Biosecurity Act, Mr Glentworth said.

He wanted to see increased education on the impacts of the pest as well as a great co­ordination between farmers towards eradication, he said.

Environment Southland biosecurity manager Richard Bowman said while he was aware wallabies had moved in to North Otago and other areas of Otago, there were no cases in Southland.

There had been half a dozen dead wallabies found in the region, and one live sighting in Invercargill City, but the wallaby was out of the region before Environment Southland was involved, he said.

As part of Southland's 2007 Pest Strategy Management Plan, Wallabies were on the exclusion list, where they would stay, Mr Bowman said.

Wallaby timeline

Wallabies arrived in New Zealand in 1876.

Became a problem in 1950s. A wallaby control board was put in place and taxpayers funded 50% of the operations [poisoning and hunting with dogs]. About 1600 to 2000 were killed a year.

The board was disbanded in 1994 as taxpayers did not want to contribute to the work. Wallaby control became user-pays.