The eradication of possums from Kapiti Island, New Zealand

The Australian marsupial the brushtail possum Trichosurus vulpecula was introduced to Kapiti Island, a nature reserve off the south-west coast of New Zealand, in 1893. Various attempts were made to control possums on Kapiti because of the negative impacts on forest ecosystems. Possums can kill individual trees, potentially alter forest succession and regeneration processes, suppress flowering and fruiting, and prey upon native birds and other native animals. Possum control was initiated in 1980 and approximately 21,000 possums were removed by 1985. Eradication was achieved using traps, dogs and guns. Dogs located 32 of the 80 possums that were removed during 1985-1986. This programme has shown that dogs and intensive trapping are effective tools for eradicating possums from large areas of land where re-invasion is prevented. Eradication attempts are inherently risky and require a bold commitment from those bureaucracies with the responsibility to succeed. Thorough planning and highly skilled and motivated teams are essential ingredients to the success of eradication attempts.

Author Brown, K. P. and Sherley, G. H.
Year 2002
Secondary title International Conference on Eradication of Island Invasives
Publisher IUCN Invasive Species Specialist Group
Pages 46-52
Control method Trapping
Region NZ