Responses of common brushtail possums (Trichosurus vulpecula) to translocation on farmland, southern North Island, New Zealand

The behaviour, movements and fate of radio-tagged brushtail possums (Trichosurus vulpecula) were studied after they were translocated between sites on farmland in two areas in the southern North Island, New Zealand. At both sites some possums remained near the release site while others moved up to 12.5 km before settling. At one site, four possums returned distances of about 3.9 km from the release site to their sites of capture (homing), with two of these homing successfully twice. Translocated possums displayed some of the characteristics of naturally dispersing possums but, unlike them, their long-distance movements were not male-biased nor made particularly by juveniles. The location and availability of suitable nest sites appeared to influence the movements of translocated possums, but no other major influences of landscape features on their patterns of movement were detected. Survival during the first 9 weeks after translocation was not influenced by sex, age, weight, distance moved or time since release. Translocated possums on New Zealand farmland, where the main predators are people and vehicles, suffered much lower mortality than possums in a similar study in Australia, where canids, particularly foxes, were a major cause of death.

Author Cowan, P. E.
Year 2001
Secondary title Wildlife Research
Volume 28
Number 3
Pages 277-282
Region NZ