Putting possums on the pill

April 13, 2009

A contraceptive for possums  has been successfully trialled at Wellington Zoo.

The treatment makes possums infertile for up to two years.

Associate Professor Doug Eckery, of Victoria University, said he hoped to have field trials underway by 2013.

“It was an exciting result, but delivery is the key,” he told the Dominion Post.

The challenge was to find a way to distribute it to wild possums, possibly using bait.

The estimated 50 to 70 million possums  in New Zealand compete with native birds for food, eat young growth of trees , destryoing forests, and sometimes dine on birds’ eggs and chicks. They also carry tuberculosis which is a danger to beef and dairy cattle and deer.

North Otago is a low risk area for TB but we  had several outbreaks in our dairy herd. It took ages to find the carrier,  a cow which had come from the West Coast. Testing isn’t 100% reliable and it wasn’t until she was culled after drying herself off that we discovered she was riddled with TB.

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