Happened To...

An update on past news

Research funding to
keep track of wallaby
colony has been cut

Question: What ever happened to the state's effort to track the population of wild wallabies living in Kalihi Valley?

Answer: Wildlife biologists used to keep close tabs on the 100 wallabies living on the cliffs of the valley, but research funding was cut 10 years ago and officials have focused their attention on other invasive animals.

Officials believe the wallabies still live in the valley, but no one is certain how many there are.

"It's really hard to get information on the wallabies because they live on such a steep hillside. We had to rappel from ropes to get close," said Dave Smith, Oahu district wildlife manager for the state Department of Land & Natural Resources.

Smith described the animals as "gentle, harmless creatures" and said he only saw them when he set large traps.

The small marsupials with long, bushy tails and small ears are shy creatures that pose little threat to the environment, said Carol Terry, a wildlife biologist with the DNLR.

"They are vegetarians grazing on Christmas berry bushes and just haven't spread their population. Most of the problem animals have high reproductive potential -- not the wallabies."

According to Raymond Kramer's "Hawaiian Land Mammals," two wallabies escaped from a private zoo in Alewa Heights and took up residence in Kalihi. Neighborhood dogs ripped open the tent that served as a temporary cage for three wallabies. The joey was killed, but the two that escaped established the first colony of wallabies in Hawaii, the book said.

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