28 May 2006
In Australia the possum is a protected animal. But in New Zealand it is ‘your duty’ to kill them.
Once there were a few possums imported to breed for their fur. When the New Zealanders finally designed some nice coats at the end of the 19th century, unfortunately fur just became out of fashion. So, they released the animals from their cages.
The possums loved the New Zealand green and lived in abundance. Today there are 70 million of them. New Zealanders say they are a concurrent for the food of their beloved kiwi bird.
There are possum shops where you can still buy all sorts of things made of possum fur and tasty canned possum meat. Rumour goes round that you can sell dead possums to these shops …
In the seventies, when the government wanted to do something against possum plague, they got the idea to give the citizens a monetary reward for each collected possum. A huge hunt began. Everyone joined in and the big eradication seemed to make good progress.
Until the moment the first private possum breeding farms were discovered … in children’s rooms, in backyards, in attics …
Now they are trying again, without the help of the citizens. During hiking along the forest trails you sometimes see a pink triangle nailed to a tree. That means on a distance of a few meters from the path, there is put poison or a possum trap.