If you live in a rural area you have probably been woken at night by the screech and grunts of the possum.
While it’s protected in Australia, the possum is nothing but a darn right nuisance in New Zealand (in my humble opinion!). Collectively the NZ possum population, estimated at around 30 million, munches it’s way through 9000 tonnes of leaves and berries every night. But they don’t only destroy the native bush, they also can carry tuberculosis which can be passed to cattle and deer.
This is the main issue with the possum as a tb outbreak in livestock could devastate agriculture in this country.
Regional Councils along with DOC have possum control programs that include trapping, poisoning, and the controversial 1080 drops. The majority of this pest control in on public land and some larger private blocks.
You can do your bit too controlling this pest on your land.
Here are a few ways to go about getting rid of these little buggers:
Probably the most exciting way to go about getting rid of your possum problem. A .22 calibre rifle and a decent spotlight is all you need. Possums, being nocturnal become active about an hour or so after dark, if you are hunting around trees then taking a dog can be a good idea as they can hunt them out and put them up a tree for you to shoot.
Kill traps are a very effective way of controlling your possum population. These are available at all farm supply stores, you can also purchase bait or use a slice of apple as bait. Check your traps every day and keep the bait fresh.
Non lethal traps
There a two types of non lethal traps, the cage type and hold types. Cage traps are suitable for use around populated areas where there is a chance of catching someone's cat, you might even catch the odd hedgehog.
Hold traps hold the possums leg so the can’t get away. Not the most humane method of trapping but they are quick to set and an efficient way of catching big numbers. These traps are popular with trappers as the fur is easily plucked when the possum is still warm. These traps definitely need to be checked every day.
The most popular poisons for possums are cyanide and 1080. Licences are required to use these as there are strict regulations around their use. Most poison is used in bait stations as this keeps it dry and out of the reach of other animals.
You can pluck your possums fur and sell it, it is worth up to $120 a kg, which is 10-15 possums. So I can be well worth plucking them if you have a decent number.
Good luck with your possuming
DIY advice for lifestylers, written by Kiwi Cattle Yards owner, Euan Seymour.