Why are possums and other introduced animals targeted?
The Australian Brushtail Possum was first released into New Zealand in 1837 with the sole purpose of establishing a fur trade. They were initially protected to allow numbers to increase. Many human pressures on the environment are more damaging than introduced animals but are not recognised as key threats.
Every year 1080 poison kills non-target species, including dogs, cats, deer, pigs, birds and insects. Landcare Research remarks that 1080’s toxicity can be a ‘disadvantage’ in areas where non-target species can access bait. There are concerns for the welfare of non-target animals in areas exposed to 1080, as it is highly toxic particularly to both mammals and insects.
SAFE believes it is our responsibility to treat these animals fairly and humanely. The key viable alternative would be the use of fertility control, which would slowly reduce numbers over time. This has proven effective in other countries, such as on populations of unwanted animals like wild horses and deer in the US.
Landcare Research has been working on developing contraceptive control of possum for many years, stating that it could be more effective than current methods. Using biological control as well as conventional control will slow down the rate at which possum numbers build up. We estimate that such integrated possum control might need to be done only one-third as often as current control with poisons or traps alone.
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