The Australian brush-tailed possum is bad news for our forests and native species – stripping and killing trees, eating eggs and chicks, wētā and other insects.
Across New Zealand, it is estimated possums consume 21,000 tonnes of vegetation a night – that’s nearly the weight of Auckland’s Sky Tower every 24 hours. They are known to eat 70 types of native trees and can change the overall structure of a forest. Possums also compete with native birds for habitat and food and are the main source and carrier of bovine tuberculosis, or TB, a highly infectious and serious disease found in cattle and deer herds.
They were introduced to establish a fur trade, but with plenty of vegetation for food and no natural predators their numbers soared.
In the project area, our research has found a possum at 2070m – the highest a possum has been recorded anywhere. Normally they live at lower altitudes though, as there is a lack of tasty food higher up.
Research from Zero Invasive Predators (ZIP) has found possums don’t like getting their feet wet, so rivers can be useful as a barrier to stop possums invading.
Photo : Fight for the Wild Peter Young