About the Red-necked Wallaby
Red-necked wallabies are native to Australia and can be found across its east coast and throughout the most southern state, Tasmania. However due to human exportations they can now be found all across the world. They been introduced into the South Island of New Zealand where there are now significant populations, and can be found in some places in the UK and Europe. You can find small wild populations of red-necked wallabies in England, Scotland, the Isle of Man, Ireland, France and Germany.
For the purpose of this article, we will talk mainly about the subspecies of Red-necked wallaby called the Bennett’s Wallaby, found in Tasmania and New Zealand. This is because these are the only populations of red-necked wallabies available for people to hunt recreationally.
The red-necked wallaby is classed as of ‘Least concern’ by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, their population is currently stable. They have a remarkably high population in Tasmania, an increasing population in south-east Queensland, stable populations in northern New South Wales but they have started to decline in areas of southern NSW and parts of Victoria.
These wallabies are mostly solitary animals but can be found ‘gathered’ where food or water is present. They are mostly nocturnal animals meaning they are most active during the night time hours and rest during the day. It is quite common (especially in Tasmania) to see them living in close proximity to humans. They can be found on lawns in suburbia that backs onto small pockets of bushland throughout the state.
Oddly enough if you see too kangaroos ‘fighting’ this can often actually be a male and female courting. Their courting often starts with a quick fight and ends with them mating, they will then stay together for about a day then go their separate ways. For the mainland population of red-necked wallabies this can happen at any time throughout the year with no specific breeding season but for the Tasmanian Bennett’s wallaby breeding season is around late summer to early autumn.
They have a gestation period of just 29 days then the young is born, weighing in at less than 1 gram (.04 ounces). At birth the joey is underdeveloped and hairless but can climb from the opening of the birth canal up to the mother’s pouch. It then attaches itself to the mother’s teat while it develops further. The joey will stay in the pouch for about 9 months, after which it will stay by its mothers’ side and continue to suckle for an additional 3-9 months. The joey will then stay close to its mother for a few months. Females will reach sexual maturity around 14 months whereas its around 19 months for males.
Like kangaroos, wallabies can experience something called embryonic diapause. This is where the female has a fertilised egg that her body holds onto without implanting, essentially pausing a pregnancy. This will happen if she mates within a few days of giving birth as they experience what is called postpartum estrus. When the joey in the pouch finally leaves the egg will then implant and continue development. This means technically a mother wallaby can have 3 children on the go at once. One fertilised egg awaiting implantation, one joey in the pouch and one young wallaby outside the pouch. No wonder she sleeps all day!
Tasmanian subspecies is called the Macropus rufogriseus rufogriseus or Bennett’s wallaby. This subspecies is smaller than its mainland counterparts. They have darker, shaggier fur due to the colder climate of the island state.
They have a grey-redish coat the has tinges of white particularly on the face and stomach. Their noses and paws are a dark brown-black colour. A full grown Bennett’s wallaby can weigh anywhere from 13-20kgs (28lbs-44lbs) and stand about 90cms (35in) tall. As with most animals, the males are generally bigger than the females.
Red-necked wallabies are native to the eastern coast of Australia, and throughout the state of Tasmania. They are found alongside bushland and love to feed in pastures at night. Due to their large population in Tasmania and their affection for pasture lands farmers are not huge fans of these wallabies as they compete with their animals for available food and will also eat any crop that the farmers have planted. For this reason, farmers can apply for crop protection permits for wallabies on their properties.
Like previously stated, Tasmania and New Zealand’s South Island are the only places you can hunt Red-necked Wallabies without a special permit, all you need to do is buy a game’s licence.
According to Tasmania’s Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment’s Animal Welfare Guidelines, there are two ways to appropriately hunt wallabies.
The first way is with a shotgun (check out our episode of I Am Hunter where we show how to hunt wallabies with a shotgun), this is primarily used for moving targets at close range or while hunting with dogs. It is a highly effective method of hunting wallabies especially if you are wanting to get a large amount of them in one hunt. The recommendations for calibre are to use a 12, 16 or 20 gauge shotgun for this and aim at the head, neck or chest of the wallaby from no more than 40 metres.
If you are using dogs, you need to make sure the dogs are used ONLY for flushing out the wallabies and ONLY in daylight hours. The dogs are NOT allowed to catch, injure or kill the wallabies as this can land you with a fine of up to $5000 and/or 12 months imprisonment for violating the Animal Welfare Act 1993. You ARE allowed to use dogs to locate or retrieve shot wallabies.
The second way to hunt wallabies is with a rifle, this is primarily used for stationary targets that are over 40m away. It is recommended that you use a .22LR or higher when hunting wallabies with a rifle. Anything over 80m a centrefire rifle is recommended. When it comes to shot placement, DPIPWE’s Animal Welfare guidelines suggest shooting them in the head to hit the brain or where it is not practical to take a headshot to shoot for the heart. They also recommend using hollow-point projectiles.
As for New Zealand’s Department of Conservation, they don’t have many restrictions on the hunting of wallabies. All it states is a recommendation to use a .222 or higher and aim high in the chest.