“The number one threat to New Zealand environment and biodiversity”
Australian Brushtail Opossum (Trichosurus vulpecula)
This furry pest was deliberately introduced for the fur trade in the mid-19th century. It was a protected species except to licensed hunters until 1938. Opossums found New Zealand forest more palatable than the eucalyptus trees in their homeland Australia. In its native land the possum is up against Dingoes and bush fires but in New Zealand there are no predators and lots of vegetation, they not only thrived but increased to plague proportions and as a result they have a huge impact on our ecosystems.
There are an estimated about 65 million possums in New Zealand.
The Damage Caused
In New Zealand, possums are taking over our bush land, pushing out native species of birds, for which New Zealand is unique. Possums eat their foods, nest in their trees, and have been recorded eating eggs and chicks from nests. Possum feeding habits also disrupt the food supplies for native bats, lizards and even insects. They strip native plants of leaves, buds, flowers, and seeds, meaning less chances of propagation. Our native trees do not have the defensive chemicals of the Australian trees, therefore the possums can continue to eat from the one tree until the tree has been severely affected. Many of these plant species are disappearing from our forests, allowing invasive non-native species to take hold.
Possum is the host and carrier of a lethal disease, bovine TB, this of huge concern to our dairy industry
The possum has a thick, bushy tail, a pointed snout and long, fox-like tapering ears. Size and weight of possums varies greatly across New Zealand. Adult possums are typically between 65 and 95cm in length, and can weigh anywhere between 1.4 and 6.4kg. There are two general color forms, grey and black, although each of these varies greatly.
Best Hunting Times
All year, however if your are after a nice skin then Winter time is the best time to shoot possums as the fur is much thicker.
Opossums are nocturnal and come out at dusk, which is the ideal time to hunt. Hunting with a 22 caliber rifle and a spot light is ideal as they sit in trees and their eyes can be seen with the spotlight.
The Possum is a tough tenacious creature and although cartridges such as the .22 Magnum, .17 HMR and 12 gauge shotgun are ideal, the .22lr is by far the most economical possum hunting cartridge. If you are planning on keeping the Possum for plucking or skinning it pays to use a .22 caliber riffle to avoid damaging the fur or skin too much.
Opossum Hunting Trips and Prices