The New Zealand Fur Council recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Department of Conservation to promote fur recovery as one of the solutions for the control of possums for natural heritage protection. Conservation is bigger than the Department of Conservation alone.
Possums are introduced predators in the New Zealand bush and their impact on native forests is well understood. The impact takes many forms from canopy die-back of pohutukawa, rata, totara, titoki, kowhai, and kohekohe, to competing with native birds and other fauna for habitat and food. Possums also eat the eggs and chicks of native birds.
Developing collaborative partnerships is essential to halt the loss of biodiversity, and support prosperity through industries such as tourism and agriculture, which rely on natural resources and ecosystem services such as water quality, pollination, climate regulation and nutrient cycles.
The possum story
Brushtail possums were first introduced into New Zealand from Australia in 1837 to establish a fur industry. By 1900 the reported damage to native flora and fauna, crops and orchards prompted the government to commission investigations by two of the country’s leading botanists. It was agreed that the potential long-term effects on the environment if left unchecked would be devastating.
Today possums are considered the major animal pest in New Zealand with the number of possums estimated to exceed 30 million. Possums are ravenous eaters that consume a staggering amount of native vegetation, which is in excess of 21, 000 tonnes per day.
One of the solutions
Millions of tax payer dollars are being spent on eradication to stop possums destroying forests every year. Conservation outcomes can be enhanced through the commercial harvesting of possums such as trapping boundaries to slow immigration by possums into high value ecological sites.
Commercial possum fur harvesting is a realistic component of possum management on Public Conservation Land.
The New Zealand Fur Council has recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Department of Conservation that will give New Zealand Fur Council accredited hunters and trappers, all of who must pass and comply with an industry Code of Practice, clearance to harvest possums in defined forest areas.