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Friday, April 17, 2009

Cuddly little possum now one of New Zealand's worst pests..

First published at Qassia:

POSSUMS which were originally introduced into New Zealand from Australia in the 1800's for the fur trade, now number over 70 million. The bushtail possum is described as an introduced marsupial, and considered a cuddly little animal by Australians back in their native land. This so-called "cuddly little animal" is one of New Zealand's worst pests, along with the wild rabbit introduced in the 1800's as well, in both economical and ecological terms. They are detested by farmers because the possum spreads TB to cattle, and possibly other stock as well. They are also responsible for the destruction of many hectares of bush in New Zealand.

About $110 million annually is spent by the "Environmental Risk Management Authority" trying to control this noxious species by the use of poisons which includes the controversial and risky 1080, which many groups consider extremely dangerous; eradication has long been forgotten as a reality in relation to the POSSUM in New Zealand. A recommendation has recently been made for more research into alternative methods of POSSUM control.

As a consequence of a breakthrough in searching for a possum contraceptive, there could be a cut in the usage of 1080 poison. A new hormone disruption treatment has been trialled by injecting captive possum at the Wellington Zoo which has made some possums infertile for up to two years.

Now the challenge is to replicate this success in the wild and introduce the method to possums by the use of traps. "Field trials are hoped for and could be under way by 2013," as stated by Professer Doug Eckery of Victoria University in Wellington, recently.

The new research is being carried out by the Victoria University School of Biological Sciences,and focuses on the formation of ovaries, the regulation of hormones,and the growth of eggs.A hormone in the brain of possums is a key regulator of fertility.

This project fitted in nicely with the general aim of protecting native flora and New Zealand wildlife.

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At April 28, 2009 at 6:46 PM , Anonymous PlanMyGreen said...

Though they are considered a pest, the New Zealand opossum (silent O here in the US) is much more attractive then what we call opossum's in Iowa. They seem to be up to the same mischief though.

Ever since a raccoon bite paralyzed my dog for a couple of months, I have kept an eye out for opossums and raccoons hanging around the house.

At April 28, 2009 at 10:01 PM , Blogger Unknown said...

They are called bushy tailed possums here in NZ - they originate from Australia.

Maybe Aussies are better looking? LOL

At April 29, 2009 at 2:54 PM , Anonymous PlanMyGreen said...

Lol, well you definitely have better looking marsupials. :)


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