Posted by: Loren Coleman on May 18th, 2009
From New York to Hawaii, people are talking about Australian marsupials in places they shouldn’t be.
Police in New York State are still on the hunt for a missing wallaroo (blobroo photo above), which has been on the run for the past month.
According to the online newspaper The Oneida Daily, the three foot tall roo escaped his cage in the town of Chittenango, New York, west of New York City, in April 2009, and has been on the loose ever since.
The animal was spotted May 7, 2009, by several motorists in the neighbouring town of Canastota but a police search failed to turn up the critter.
Motorists and residents have been reporting regular sightings of the kangaroo-like animal, but it took local student Rebekah Janson to capture evidence of the wallaroo on video.
Rebekah said her friends were a bit skeptical about the wallaroo, so the next time she spotted the animal, she made a video of it.
The wallaroo’s name is Bandit, and he escaped from his owner Jeff Taylor II, who had planned on making him a star in his Wild Animal Experience when it opens late next year.
Even though Bandit was not dangerous, authorities have urged citizens not to approach the wallaroo, which has become a minor celebrity in the town.
“Every corner I turn, every red light, I’m constantly looking for a three foot wallaroo,” Sherrill resident Deliah Porter told a local news website.
“And I’m gonna wear my helmet and my seatbelt and take precaution.”
State police thought they had the wallaroo cornered on earlier in May, but admit they were misinformed. Australian media has followed the New York story closely.
“This time it’s the kangaroo,” a Madison County 911 dispatcher told syracuse.com. “Someone thought it was the kangaroo, but it was a whitetail deer that was sitting down.”
Meanwhile, in Hawaii, some attention lately has been directed at the wallabies gone wild there.
They’re native to Australia, but the brush-tailed rock wallaby has established itself, on Oahu. It is a small, but nonetheless established colony, in Kalihi Valley.
Once inhabiting an area from Nuuanu to Halawa Valley, the wallabies are now believed to exist only in one small area within Kalihi Valley. The big question surrounding the elusive animal is: just how many of them are up there?
“There was less than 40 one time, then a little bit later like in 1986, so I would say that estimate is as good now as it was then” said retired state wildlife manager Ron Walker.
Walker studied the wallabies for years, and he knows their history. Three of them were brought here to a private zoo in 1916, but neighborhood dogs attacked. The youngest wallaby was killed. The remaining male and female escaped into the wild, and then nature took its course.
“The state at that point in time said it’s not going to be a pest. It’s herbivorous; it eats mostly Christmas berries and other non-native plants.”
To this day the state has no official management plan for the mini-marsupials, which stand about knee-high, and weigh no more than 10-15 pounds. But because they are considered threatened in Australia, and there is such great interest in the animals, they are off limits to hunters.
And if you plan to go in search of the elusive wallaby yourself like so many others have?
“Good luck. It’s on private property and it’s up above the military base so you have to gain access from the landowners” said Walker to Channel 8, KHNL.
And even if you were granted access, Walker says the odds of a sighting a wallaby are pretty much slim to none. In fact, there’s been no documented wallaby sighting since 1990. But, Walker remains positive they’re out there.
“Oh, I’m sure they are. They have all the food in the world. The only problem they have is with wild dogs. There’s a pack of wild dogs that roams that area. Sometimes hunters have been known to shoot them. Why? I don’t know. It’s a cool story.”