• Possum eating bird egg – Ngā Manu Images.
  • Flipping Timmy.
  • Chewed wax tags.

Working together to protect nature

A pesty problem…

Brushtail possums were introduced to Aotearoa New Zealand by humans for their fur a very short time ago (1837-1858), relative to how long our country and native wildlife had enjoyed a long, prosperous, and largely pest-free status until that point. It’s astonishing how much negative impact possum have had in the short time they have been browsing our forests.

Possum in New Zealand are considered a rather heavy-weight invasive pest (weighing up to 5kg) as they eat seedlings, vegetation, insects, bird eggs, chicks and even adult birds should they get the chance. They can cause certain native plants to gradually disappear, and in this way can actually change the composition of native ecosystems and even cause the total collapse of the forest. They also take up valuable nesting space that should be for our special cavity nesters like the ruru, kākā or kākāriki. That pesky possum might also be the cause for your lost orchard fruit, rose bushes and the banging inside your roof should they be so lucky to find a crevice.
Without natural predators in New Zealand, their numbers go unchecked. Sadly, the occasional roadside incident is not enough to make a dent in their populations and protect the New Zealand bush and all the unique native wildlife that reside here. Humans have upset the balance of our native ecology – but there is hope. You can do something about it, and with surprisingly not much difficulty.

What can you do?
Here on the North Shore, in a mostly urban environment with a smattering of lifestyle blocks and rural areas, we can easily trap possum. There are a number of kill-traps out there that deliver easy, fast and humane control of this animal pest. The Flipping Timmy and Trapinator are good options. These traps are affixed directly to a tree up off the ground which makes them extra safe for other backyard visitors. The possum smells a tempting treat (a small amount of apple and cinnamon, a BLAZE or a specific possum lure – NOT meat), and knows no more. Your contribution by putting one of these in your backyard if you hear, see or suspect possum (especially if you back onto a bush reserve) is a good idea, one which your local pest free community group can support you with. You should start seeing the fruit of your effort in the increased bird song around you, the native seedlings springing up in the forest and the fact you actually get to eat some of those feijoas.  

There are several environmental networks across Auckland’s North Shore that support communities to identify and control pest animals like possum, rats and mice.  Many even have free devices you can borrow. We suggest you contact them so you can be a happy, confident trapper:

East Coast Bays and Hibiscus Coast
Restore Hibiscus & Bays, info@restorehb.org.nz,
restorehb.org.nz/resources-pest-plants/, Facebook.com/RestoreHB

Kaipātiki, Pest Free Kaipātiki (PFK), enquiries@pestfreekaipatiki.org.nz,

Takapuna, Pupuke Birdsong Project, enviro@takapunatrust.org.nz,

Devonport Peninsula, Restoring Takarunga Hauraki, pestfreedevonport@gmail.com,

Upper Harbour, Upper Waitematā Ecology Network (UWEN) upperharbourecology@gmail.com,

For advice on chemical-free alternatives, Kaipātiki Project community@kaipatiki.org.nz kaipatiki.org.nz,

This monthly feature is a collaborative initiative between Restore Hibiscus & Bays, Pest Free Kaipātiki Restoration Society, Pupuke Birdsong Project, Restoring Takarunga Hauraki, the Upper Waitematā Ecology Network and Kaipātiki Project. Building on Te Ao Māori principles of kaitiakitanga and whanaungatanga, these environmental networks bring our communities together to foster guardianship, care and respect towards our whenua, natural world and indigenous wildlife.