A skilled hunter can shoot 100 of the invasive marsupials in a night. But with millions of hectares infested, some fear control efforts are too late
Pete Peeti flicks off the headlights, cuts the ignition and lets his truck roll quietly down a bush track, deep in the heart of New Zealand’s North Island. Twilight is slipping into night and rain is falling in thick drapes.
“Close your door quietly when you get out,” Peeti says. He slings his gun over his shoulder and scans the track with high-tech thermal vision goggles. “The hardier ones will brave the rain,” he says quietly.
The goggles render the landscape ghostly – skeletal trees and blotted shadows. Barely a minute passes before a splash of bright light moves into frame 30 metres away. It grazes for a moment, and then with the unmistakeable bounce of a wallaby, hops toward a new patch of grass.
Peeti drops flat against the wet earth and readies his shot. But for the rain, the night stills with anticipation. His gun cracks. “Got it,” he says disappearing into the darkness to retrieve the animal.