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Possums an Invasive Species Introduced  to NZ

It is a fact that the exotic introduced species of Australian Brushtail Possum is a major ecological threat in New Zealand. Rats & stoats are also major introduced predators in the New Zealand bush.

By investing in a possum fur product you are contributing to the survival and regeneration of the unique native New Zealand forest, birds and insect species, many of whom are now threatened by extinction.

Because of its long isolation from the rest of the world, New Zealand has extraordinary & unique flora and fauna. About 80% of New Zealand's flora is endemic, meaning that it is found only in New Zealand.

New Zealand has been described as a 'country without teeth'. The only mammal that is native to New Zealand is a native bat. So before people came to New Zealand it was ruled by birds, insects and reptiles.

Many of our native birds have become flightless leaving them vulnerable to introduced predators. The possum has no natural predators in New Zealand to keep their numbers down naturally like they do in their native Australia. Unchecked they continue to breed and numbers are escalating out of control every year.

Some New Zealand broad leaf tree species are absolute delicacies for possums, and these same species are also some of the countries most endangered.

Possums will seek out their favourite food ahead of other species and eat them out to extinction; stripping entire trees bare of leaves so that they die.

This leads to competition for food with native forest birds, changes in forest composition and eventually causes forest canopy collapse. It was recently discovered that the supposedly vegetarian possum also eats native birds' eggs, baby chicks and native insects.

So, as well as destroying our native birds' habitat and food sources, they prey on eggs and chicks of native New Zealand bird species like the Tui, Kereru, and the endangered Kokako. The predation of bird eggs and chicks has led them to be referred to as "reluctant folivores", meaning that they eat foliage to survive but prefer a mix of other foods in their diet. 

Kokako endangered bird of NZ This watercolour shows three rare endangered Kokako in a native bush setting: the North Island Kokako or blue-wattle crow; the South Island Kokako or orange-wattle crow and the albino Kokako.

Keulemans, John Gerrard, 1842-1912 :Kokako. [Between 1899 and 1906?].
Reference number: D-033-004. Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand, must be obtained before any re-use of this image. 

It is estimated that there are approximately 30-40 million possums in New Zealand, and they devour nearly 8 million tonnes of vegetation annually.

The New Zealand Department of Conservation and National Possum Control Agencies are trying to keep possum numbers under control by declaring possums a pest and encouraging their eradication.

Most possums in National Parks are killed by the New Zealand Government using poison and are left in the bush to rot, and this natural resource is wasted. The New Zealand Government spends eighty million dollars a year on possum control.

Possums are known carriers of bovine tuberculosis, which provides a major threat to the New Zealand dairy, beef and deer farming industries.

Over the last five years, possum control programs have been the main driver of a 60% reduction in TB levels in New Zealand's cattle and deer herds.


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