9 Jul 2012

Possum trapping and pest control goals don't match

12:52 pm on 9 July 2012

A study by Landcare Research has found that trapping possums for their fur won't reduce the numbers enough to meet pest control and conservation goals.

Researchers have been investigating the feasibility of marrying commercial possum harvesting with effective pest control.

But Bruce Warburton, a scientist involved in the study says they found an economic gap between making a living from harvesting the fur and pest control goals.

He says trappers can make a viable living from trapping in areas where there are high numbers of possums and if they get a 50% - 60% catch rate.

"But for control, particularly for bovine TB management, we have to get the possum numbers down to a level where you might only be catching 2% catch - so if you're running 100 traps for a day or for a night you're only getting two to three possums the next day".

Mr Warburton says it's impossible to make a living from that because the fur prices are currently in the order of $8 per possum, so it doesn't provide sufficient income if trappers are catching only two or three per day.

However, he says a lot of possum control work is still carried out by trappers contracted by the Animal Health Board, Conservation Department or local councils to run trapping lines and bait stations.

He says they have the option of collecting and selling the fur, although many choose not to.