I’m a Kiwi, a Taranaki boy, and have been lucky enough to have a job that’s taken me to most parts of our plucky island nation punching above its weight at the bottom of the world, but, until recently, I’d never seen a wallaby in our wild. I don’t think I’m alone.
By Mark Crysell of TVNZ1's Sunday
Late last year, Sunday producer Julia Sartorio and I were driving from Rotorua to Auckland and we spotted the sign above.
Julia is also a force of nature, and by the time we arrived back in Auckland we had a story. Wallabies are here alright.
They’ve been here since the 1870s and their numbers are exploding. Most New Zealanders haven’t seen them because they’re sneaky, shy and quiet and they come out at night when no one can see them but, just like possums and rabbits, they’re devouring our native forests and pastures.
The authorities have tried to keep them in large containment zones - 200,000 hectares in the Bay of Plenty and 900,000 hectares in the South Canterbury - but they’re escaping.
A Landcare report says they could cover a third of the country in 50 years and cost the economy almost $100 million a year in lost revenue.
Regional councils and farmers are doing the best they can but it’s expensive to control wallabies and they really need central Government to step up to the plate.
Forest and Bird reckon $7.4 million a year would provide effective control – currently local councils and farmers are spending only $1.38 million a year.
So yes, I’ve now seen a wallaby in the wild, in fact make that wallabies. It’s astonishing how many there are when you know where to look and it’s heart-breaking to see what they’re doing to our fragile native forests.
It’s time to get serious on wallaby control because how on earth are we ever going to be predator free by 2050 if we can’t even control this forgotten pest.
Watch Mark Crysell's entire in-depth report from Sunday in the video above.