We all know possums are a massive problem for our forests and farmers. You may not know this, but they also eat the eggs and young of our native birds.
We have all seen the devastation possums cause to native forests as they munch through the best new leaves of our native plants and trees. They particularly like chowing down on lowland trees like rata, totara, titoki, kowhai, tree fuschia (kōtukutuku) and kohekohe. They also compete with our native birds for food such as insects and berries. They spread bovine tuberculosis among cattle and deer, and also munch a significant amount of pasture!
This is why most of us cheer when we see a squashed possum on the road. But Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC) have gone the extra mile when it comes to possum eradication. Along with DOC and AHB, they have done careful baiting operations that has reduced the regions possum population to 13% of what it once was. This is the lowest of any region in New Zealand. In other words 7 out of every 8 possums in our region have been killed – an incredible achievement! That is far more than any other region by a long way – the most other areas have done is a measly 50%. It is not hard to see why GWRC are one of our Halo Heroes.
This is all the result of hard work by Greater Wellington staff, contractors and volunteers working on Council reserves and private land (with the owners approval of course). Last year they covered over 20,000 hectares, with another 9,000 hectares controlled by other agencies. This year looks to be a bumper one – between GWRC and partners like DOC even more ground will be covered – perhaps up to double or triple this amount!
This has created the very real possibility that we could one day have a possum free Wellington. GWRC have achieved all this through collaboration with city and district councils, private landowners with bush blocks, and working hard in regional parks and forest reserves so imagine what we could do if more private land owners got behind them! If you see a possum in your back yard make sure you get yourself a bait station or a Box Trap and knock the sucker off.
GWRC have already achieved a possum free Miramar Peninsula and Whitireia Park , now there is nothing to stop us going all the way to State Highway 1 – which could become a natural predator proof fence. Then we really would cheer if we ran over a possum! Note if you spot a possum near a wildlife hotspot, particularly in Miramar or Whitireia Park, please let the Greater Wellington Council know on 04 526 4133 or pest.animals.govt.nz.