Traps cull possums in Cannons Creek

Evening Post | 23 February 2002

[ PHOTO NOT AVAILABLE ]

Photo: TRAPPED — Cannons Creek resident Sandy Stowers is seen through a possum trap and holding a dead possum.
Picture: CRAIG SIMCOX

Possum numbers on the Cannons Creek side of Belmont Regional Park are coming down and the area's residents can take most of the credit.

The area's residents association has encouraged households living in Bedford St, Suffolk Pl and Driver Cres with properties adjoining the park boundary to take traps supplied by Wellington Regional Council.

Association chairwoman Sylvia Jenkin said her group was delighted with the residents' response.

"We put leaflets in all 130 letterboxes and followed by knocking on every door.  We expected a 10 percent response but we've 22 traps out.  I'm very pleased."

Ms Jenkin said the number of traps was about right.

"They're well spread.  We've got them in all areas."

The fight against possums is a crucial element in a joint plan between the regional council and Friends of Maara Roa to restore Cannons Creek Valley, which in recent decades lost much of its natural vegetation due to fire, the effects of grazing — and possums.

Possums eat flowering plants, reducing birdlife and plant regeneration.

Belmont Regional Park ranger Chris Wootton said the area's landscape, with its combination of farmland, bush and scrub, provided an ideal habitat for possums.

The traps use carrots or apples, coated with jam or spice as bait.

"Possums like something sweet, whereas dogs and cats don't."

The traps needed to be rebaited two or three times a week to ensure the apples didn't go off.

Ms Jenkin said homeowners could dispose of dead possums by burying them or by putting them out in the weekly rubbish collection - provided they didn't smell too much.

"I've known some people who have fed possum to their dogs or cats.  And I've eaten possum - it tastes quite nice."

The regional council has possum traps available for sale to homeowners who want to rid their neighbourhoods of the possum pests.