ECan hopes poison bliss balls will help control population of Wallabies

ECan biosecurity officer Jenna Hughes-Games was tasked with creating hundreds of bliss balls that will be attached to ...
SUPPLIED

ECan biosecurity officer Jenna Hughes-Games was tasked with creating hundreds of bliss balls that will be attached to stakes for wallabies to feed on in the Mackenzie district.

Caution: these bliss balls may contains nuts. And cyanide.

​Environment Canterbury hopes a staple of the cafe cabinet will help spell the end of an invasive and resilient pest.

Its biosecurity team has fashioned more than a thousand of the bite-sized sweets in a bid to eradicate wallabies in the Mackenzie.

Environment Canterbury is dosing bliss balls with cyanide and giving them to wallabies in a bid to reduce the population.
SUPPLIED

Environment Canterbury is dosing bliss balls with cyanide and giving them to wallabies in a bid to reduce the population.

They will leave the balls at target sites in remote hill country once a week over three weeks.

The first two will attract the wallabies; the third will kill them.

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ECan team leader of biosecurity Brent Glentworth explained the third batch will offer a potent mix of peanut butter and 200mg of cyanide.

The project had started and would be complete in the next few weeks.

Warning signs were erected and would remain in place for a few months.

It was a sweet way to tackle a pest that has widened its range in recent years.

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They had been seen as far north as Marlborough and as far south as Naseby and Ranfurly.

ECan and the Otago Regional Council were working together to stop the natural spread of the pest over the regional boundary.

"These pests cause devastation to forestry plantings, native bush regeneration and other biodiversity, as well as impact on farming when they eat valuable pasture and damage fencing."

Biosecurity officer Jenna Hughes-Games said the cold and wet winter delayed the start of the project, as did snow lying in the targeted drop zone.

ECan has a 900,000 hectare containment area for the pest.

However, wallaby populations were now established in Mt Cook, south of the Waitaki River, and in the Benmore Range.

The Bennett wallaby was introduced to Waimate's Hunter Hills in 1874 as a curiosity after they were imported from Tasmania.

Their population boomed in the 1950s and they became a pest that required ongoing management and control.

The pest can breed as young as two years old.

ECan had concerns about people illegally moving wallabies, Glentworth said.

"People should be aware that capturing, holding or removing wallaby from the containment area is illegal, with high fines impose on those prosecuted."

 - Stuff

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