A Douglas MHK has likened the lack of protection currently afforded to wallabies to fox hunting.
John Wannenburgh was asking DEFA Minister Clare Barber why the animals aren’t protected under the Wildlife Act. This comes after one of the animals was shot in the head and left to die before being found by a kinder soul who rang the MSCPA which sadly had to put down the otherwise health animal.
Mrs Barber said that due to the non-indigenous nature of the wallabies, there is no formal policy or protection for the animals but that it does required a ‘great deal of consideration’. This would include the size and health of the population, its impact on wildlife and the views of the public.
The Minister added: ‘This research would be required ahead of any decisions but I am pleased to confirm that the department is already considering and scoping this policy development work. I do believe wallabies are akin to marmite and opinion does seem to be definitely split.
‘We have many members of our community who value and cherish our wallabies, but equally many want to see them controlled or even eradicated as they are a pest and present a risk to their own animals. Therefore I believe it is important during policy development that public opinion is sought and taken into account.’
While wallabies aren’t covered by the Wildlife Act, Mrs Barber said they, like all animals on the island, are protected by the Cruelty to Animals Act.
However, Mr Wannenbugh seemed unmoved by this pledge to consult on the future of the marsupials, saying they are currently ‘legitimate targets for hunting and shooting without a specific license, as long as that firearm is held legally.
He added: ‘Would the Minister agree with me therefore, that this is nothing short of the Manx form of fox hunting, welcome to the Isle of Man in the 21st century.’
Unsurprisingly, Mrs Barber didn’t agree with that statement, but said the key point she wanted to emphasise was that her department is formulating a policy for wallabies but that she won’t do so without conducting research to back that up with evidence.