A wallaby sighting in Te Tai Tokerau is now a suspected case of mistaken identity.
A member of the public thought they saw the pest on the west coast near Dargaville on 1 May.
Northland Regional Council staff then spent five days searching for wallabies, their droppings, and plant damage.
They found nothing but noticed a large hare population.
In a press release, the council’s Biosecurity Working Party chair Jack Craw said hares had heads a similar size and colour to wallabies, “and when a large hare sits motionless it’s understandable how mistaken identity can occur”.
“While there are currently no known wallaby populations in Northland, there’s always the potential that they could make their way into Northland via illegal releases,” he said.
Four years ago a wallaby sighting sparked an unsuccessful hunt, spanning 500 hectares, in south Hokianga.
The marsupials are found on Kawau Island and there are large populations around Rotorua, North Otago and South Canterbury.
Wallabies eat native and exotic seedlings and pasture, and in 2020 the government established a $27 million national programme to help eradicate them.
Wallabies breed quickly and can easily establish new populations.
Sightings or signs of wallabies should be reported to www.reportwallabies.nz to identify areas of potential spread and damage.