SYDNEY — Three dozen wallabies have been found dead in a sports field near Cairns, Australia, and officials suspect foul play. Local authorities are investigating, and a toxicology report is expected in the next few days.

In the meantime, rescuers are conducting their own informal inquiry, and as is often the case in the age-old battle of humans and their housing versus habitat, the clues keep pointing to humans.

There’s history, for one. In January 2018, in the same Cairns suburb of Trinity Beach, 17 wallabies were killed in the span of two days. Police said at least five of them seemed to have been shot with a rifle. Then there are the eyes. Some of the dead wallabies have milky white eyes, hinting at possible poisoning.


The species at issue is the agile wallaby, the most common wallaby in northern Australia. Some see the furry creatures as pests, no better than rats or other rodents. At the very least, they are not welcome on the football field, so a while ago, rescuers put in one-way fences, which let them out should they find a way in.

Over the past week, however, rescuers said the fences have been broken. One morning, 50 wallabies were seen in the field, soaking up the morning sun.

So did someone break the fences to invite them in, angering another neighbor who killed them? Or was it the same person or group?

No one yet knows. Ager said authorities are also looking into the long-shot possibility that an airborne bacteria killed the animals.

What’s clear, though, is that strong feelings about the wallabies are not likely to subside. In October, there will be a court hearing about whether to move the wallaby population to two locations farther outside the city.

Rescuers say that housing development has taken away the wallabies’ bushland, and they need to be brought further away.