LIVING WITH WILDLIFE: Brushtail possums
Brushtail possums: “street kids of the bush” - lovable but exasperating!
Possums are irrational animals/humans should be rational = we should use our intelligence to observe and manage possums.
Our aim has been to maintain a stable population of possums: trapping for relocation, shooting (the “12 gauge solution”) and poisoning destabilises the local population by removing dominant older possums. There is then a surge of juveniles to fill the “feed/power” gap. Research shows that continuous destabilisation of mammal populations in a sub region means an overall increase in numbers.
- Plan on excluding them from the actual area they are not wanted
- e.g. small orchard/vegetable area using floppy top, electric or metal fencing
- e.g. from individual high value trees - our chestnuts have expandable metal sleeves
- e.g. short term deterrent methods used include blood and bone around trees or empty chestnut burr mulch.
- Use tree species selection by planting commercial species which possums ignore
- e.g. hazelnuts, waratahs, red currants, elderberry, etc.
- Tree varietal selection
- e.g. one variety of chestnut appears particularly vulnerable and this is progressively being regrafted by top working to an improved commercial and less vulnerable variety.
- Sacrificial trees
- e.g. manage production allowing for a small (say 5%) loss of crop potential. While possums in small group of trees near the bushland then they are leaving the main orchard alone.
For further information on management of your bushland refer to the Tasmanian Bushcare Toolkit.
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