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The Brushtail Possum (Trichosurus vulpecula) is a small marsupial, native to Australia, introduced into New Zealand in the mid-19th century in an attempt to develop a fur industry. They occupy 90% of the mainland and at least 13 offshore islands. Much of this is in areas administered by the Department of Conservation. Of the estimated total possum population, about one-third is in the South Island, and two-thirds are in the North Island. The average density in the north is equivalent to four possums per hectare, 2.7 times that in the South Island. They feast on the rich New Zealand flora and fauna, making them a very nutritious protein source. They eat plant material such as ferns, leaves, flowers, and fruit). Tree species such as northern rata, mistletoe and titoki have been reduced greatly by the possum’s selective feeding. They also supplement their diet with bird eggs, baby birds and some insects. By feeding Brushtail to pets, we help to protect native birds and trees, and their habitats by maintaining a reduced population of this non-native marsupial.

Goats (Capra hircus) were introduced to New Zealand as early as 1773 when Captain James Cook released them ashore in the Marlborough Sounds. This was done for a number of reasons including food creation, a commercial fibre industry, and for weed control on developing land. Feral goats now occupy about 14% of New Zealand, about half of this on public conservation land, with an estimated population of several hundred thousand. They can quickly destroy all vegetation within their reach, threatening native plants and damaging the forest undergrowth. New Zealand’s native plants are particularly vulnerable to damage from browsing. Goats will eat the foliage of most trees and plants, eating saplings off the forest floor. They will also strip bark off trees. By eating young seedlings they effectively put a stop to forest regeneration. Government control of feral goats began in the 1930s. These days, goat control is targeted at areas where their browsing threatens rare native plants. By feeding wild goat to pets, we help to protect native trees, and their regrowth by maintaining a reduced population of this non-native mammal.

Brushtail in Native Bush
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