Possums in New Zealand basically a Fur Trade

[The following article was initially posted by Tigerquoll under the title “Basically a Fur Trade…”SKIN THE BEST and PLUCK THE REST” and published on 20091209 on ^candobetter.net]


Brushtail Possum (Trichosurus vulpecula) a native to the Blue Mountains, Australia
(Photo by editor in winter, 20100606, click image to enlarge, © ^Creative Commons )


<<When the Australian Brushtail Possum was first released into New Zealand in 1837 (becoming successfully established around 1858) with the express purpose of establishing a fur trade, our colonial New Zealand forefathers had no idea of the terrible impact that possums would have on the delicate natural balance of the native New Zealand ecosystem.>>

[Source:  ‘The history of possums in New Zealand’,


On New Zealand’s North Island at the Bay of Plenty, a backyard possum fur trader, BASICALLY BUSH, runs a thriving business slaughtering Brushtail Possum for profit. It’s just like the good ol’ days of the 19th Century.

It seems the preferred kill method is by shooting…“Be careful not to get rubbish into the bag, and that you don’t end up dropping bullets or spent shells in.”   But then they sell traps to possum poachers as well, so take your pick.   Check out the possum trap called ‘Bushmaster No 1’:

Steel Jaw Cruelty – NZ style


A good sound trap, leg hold. Freight Costs incl GST: 1 – 12 traps: $6.50 12 – 24 traps: $17.00 24 – 48 traps: $25.00 48 – 96 traps: $65.00 Please add the cost of freight to your payment.
Basically Bush’s motto is “SKIN THE BEST and PLUCK THE REST

It claims “this exciting raw material that has revolutionised the knitwear industry in New Zealand. Possum fibre is referred to as ‘possum merino’ and is promoted as ‘lighter than cashmere’.”

And profits are healthy. Back in 2007, “there has been a marked increase in fibre availability since we raised the price to $105/kg. “This increase was necessary to make sure that there was enough raw material to meet the needs of domestic production.”

Not eradicating a feral animal population
But instead profiting and perpetuating an 1837 NZ Fur Trade


These pest controllers have now gone international, making trips to India to promote fur sales, with brands like ‘Snowy Peak’ and ‘Woolyarns’.
Click here to meet the poaching team.

Colonial New Zealanders relocated Australian Brushtail Possums to New Zealand from the early 19th Century. Kiwi possum poaching currently just perpetuates the slaughter for the same reason as then – possum fur, not to eradicate them at all.

Anyone who takes exception to killing possums in large numbers (i.e the definition of ‘slaughter’) should be contributing alternatives. But profiteers like Basically Bush seem to be condoning the poaching practice. The numbers are not reducing, but the profiteers are making a killing. How backward!

What is the right way to remove introduced animals?   It remains an avoided Kiwi ecological problem.


Illegal traps discovered in Makara bush


[Source:  ‘Illegal traps discovered in Makara bush’, 20120731, Dominion Post, Wellington, New Zealand, ^http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/northern-suburbs/7384752/Illegal-traps-discovered-in-Makara-bush]


SPCA Inspector Ritchie Dawson with a banned inhumane possum trap
found in Makara Forest
(Photo by Maarten Holl)


Inhumane possum traps were discovered dotted throughout a Makara forest.  A dead possum in an illegal trap dragged home by a family dog leading to the discovery of inhumane trapping on the block.

Brent Lyell Still, of Upper Hutt, was yesterday convicted of using the illegal traps.

Guy Holmes’ called the SPCA after his dog came home dragging a leg trap in August last year.  Mr Holmes told the animal welfare inspectors he found 10 possums in traps and had to kill them. The SPCA found traps had been set on Mr Holmes’ land and his neighbour’s to catch possums.

Carcasses taken to a vet showed crush injuries that would cause distress and significant pain before death.

Mr Holmes had planted pine trees on his Makara Rd property intending to mill them and had never given permission for the traps to be set on the property.

Still, 45, yesterday pleaded guilty and was fined $300 and ordered to pay costs of $353.22 for illegally using size 1.5 leg traps, which were banned at the beginning of last year.

It was the first time someone has been prosecuted for using the illegal traps.  The traps grab a possum, most often by the leg, which can be crushed.

A further charge of setting traps that could entrap companions animals like dogs and cats was withdrawn.  Still had been asked by the neighbour to do the trapping but had laid several traps on Mr Holmes’ property as well.   In three days he killed over 600 possums.

Still’s lawyer Tim Blake said Still had been trapping for 20 years and had not known the law had changed.  Wellington District Court judge Bill Hastings agreed with Mr Blake that there had been little publicity about the recent law change but said ignorance of the law was no excuse.

Judge Hastings said despite possums being pests, there was still an obligation to treat them humanely.   To set the traps in place, a nail is driven into the tree.

SPCA prosecutor Liz Hall said any nail found in a tree at a mill would result in all logs being rejected by a mill because of the dangers of metal going through machinery.  Blake disputed there would have been any problem, saying the nail was set only a couple of inches from the ground and the trees would be cut down higher than that.>>


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