New Zealand Wildlife
Alien possums pose threat to NZ wildlife and Vegetation
They were introduced to New Zealand in the 19th Century and now they spread disease, destroy vegetation and compete with native birds for food. These pests are the possums that have now assumed epidemic proportions in New Zealand.
"They are gobbling through the country as if it were made of ice cream", is how a Spokesman for New Zealand's Conservation Department describes it.
These undesirable critters can devour as much as half a pound of foliage in a single day and they are known as keen predators of the young of some of New Zealand's endangered bird species including New Zealand's national icon, the Kiwi.
These pests were introduced to New Zealand in 1837 to kickstart the fur trade. Little was known then about the adverse effect these possums would bring on the local environment and habitat. Aided by the fact that they had no natural predators, the possums gained a strong foothold in New Zealand by 1858.
Today, possums are to be found in practically every corner of the country and the local environment is unable to cope with these invasive animals because of the unique evolution of New Zealand in isolation for over the last 65 million years.