The Brushtail Possum originates from Australia and was released in New Zealand in the late 1800s to establish a fur trade similar to that flourishing in Australia at the time. Brushtail Possums are opportunist feeders, preying upon invertebrates and small birds, and browsing the foliage of a wide range of plant species.
Reasons for the Strategy
Brushtail Possums cause extensive canopy defoliation in native forest. They also cause economic damage in exotic forest plantations. Research indicates that Brushtail Possums will prey on ground-and-tree-nesting birds and their eggs. Brushtail Possums are a recognised vector in the spread of the disease bovine tuberculosis to domestic livestock. As a vector for tuberculosis, they pose a threat to the Tasman- Nelson region’s pastoral economy.
Brushtail Possums are assessed at “8” on the infestation curve. The Councils already contribute significant funds to the Animal Health Board’s control of Brushtail Possums. The best option for complementing this work is for the Management Agency to provide advice and instruction to the public on the control of Brushtail Possums, particularly targeting landowners not involved in Animal Health Board operations. Brushtail Possums may also be controlled in sites of high public value. Assistance to land occupiers will include instruction in the field on control techniques. Extensive areas of suitable habitat, and the potential for them to cause significant adverse effects, mean the benefits of containment control far outweigh the costs.
To address the adverse effects of Brushtail Possums in the Tasman-Nelson region during the term of the Strategy.
The principal alternative measure is to adopt a greater level of regional intervention, such as requiring land occupiers to control Brushtail Possums. However, this option is considered inappropriate, given the existing control work being carried out, and the widespread distribution of Brushtail Possums.
Strategy Rule for Brushtail Possum
The Management Agency will promote and encourage control.
Biosecurity Act Requirement
No person shall knowingly sell, propagate, breed, release, or commercially display Brushtail Possums, under Sections 52 and 53 of the Act.