Possums are a huge New Zealand problem!
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A range of different methods are currently used to control possums numbers, but each method has its drawbacks.
Barbara Ryan: This is a possum trap. To use this trap, you put food inside. The possum puts his head in here, and then there is a mechanism inside that comes down and breaks the possum’s neck. So that’s one way that we've dealt with it [the possum problem]. Here are some other ways. Does anyone know what’s happening in this picture here? How is that a solution to our possum problem?
Student: Is that a picture of a tree with something around it so that the possums can't climb up it?
Barbara Ryan: Correct! That’s right! So that’s looking after our environment, protecting it from the possums. And this one down here is poison. It’s mixed with some broccoli to make the possum eat it. It’s 1080, and that poisons the possums and kills them.
What are some of the problems with some of these solutions that we've had?
Student: Birds can sometimes eat it as well.
Student: A little kid could climb a tree and see it and think that it’s like a bird egg or a lolly and it eat, or touch the egg and then not wash their hands before they eat.
Barbara Ryan: Right! So it could be dangerous to other creatures. But also, it’s a very slow way of getting.... We've got 70 million possums in this country. Can you imagine setting these traps, all set individually, having to put food back in there? Killing one possum at a time takes a long time.
- 27 November 2007
- Quicktime video
- The University of Waikato