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Spotlight the possum: Engaging the Public

Dunedin people are being asked to rug up warm, go out into the dark and search for possums. “Move very quietly and shine your light into nooks and crannies where possums may be, such as trees, fence lines, compost bins, and bushes. Look up high, too.” If people spot a possum they are advised not to freak out or approach it, but just to log it on the on-line reporting form. This will help pest-controllers know where to work next. The request quoted here has been published in the Star, a free local paper, in the Otago Daily Times and, has also been announced in the Dunedin City Council newsletter, FYI, which is dropped monthly into every Dunedin letterbox.

Spotlighting the possum is part of a huge community-driven effort on two fronts: to eventually rid the city of possums and to get local people across the whole city engaging in conservation work. Volunteers have already removed 23,000 possums from the Otago Peninsula over twelve years and only a handful remain. This is truly a splendid effort.

A possum is spotted in a Dunedin backyard last week. PHOTO: KATE TANNER . Otago Daily Times

Spotlighting the possum will help towards eradicating possums in the City Sanctuary area, and in particular from the Otago Peninsula. For our native flora and fauna, this work is hugely important and all the people involved deserve a big round of applause. Projects like this clearly take a lot of time, energy and money.

Would there be other ways to control pests? What resources – time, energy, and money – would be needed? All pest control projects, including trapping, poisoning or gene tech, have costs and risks that need to be talked about. What do you think about the risks of using gene tech compared to the costs of trapping, poisoning or other pest control strategies? What do you think about the possibilities and opportunities? We would love to hear your opinions so please leave a comment.

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