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    Rights: The University of Waikato
    Published 27 November 2007 Referencing Hub media

    Intermediate school students from Wellington discuss via video conference why possums are such a problem.


    Barbara Ryan: It’s not only people that can have invaders. Sometimes we use invaders to help us with different sorts of problems. One such problem is possums. Did you know that possums originally came from Australia 170 years ago, and because they don't have any natural enemies they have multiplied and multiplied until there are 70 million of them in our country right now. And every year they eat 7 million tonnes of vegetation, of our native forests. How do you think that that would affect our forests?

    Student: It would use up other species’ food sources.

    Barbara Ryan: That's right. It also eats their chicks, baby chicks and eggs. And I read the other day that it eats our native snail, our big Powelliphanta snail. Any other things that possums do that is destructive to our country?

    Student: It will destroy the environment. If they eat all the plants, and then it will give us much less oxygen.

    Student: The possums also eat all the trees so that all the native birds don't have any homes.

    Barbara Ryan: That’s right. Possums also spread diseases - TB amongst cows and deer. So they even help to kill off some of our larger animals. And they also interfere a lot with our power infrastructure. They go up power poles and cause shortages, and they chew through wires. So they actually cause a lot of damage.