Amateur botanist David Lyttle checks out the changes in his
garden since possum numbers have been reduced, including
the arrival of young native birds, such as this baby
bellbird. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Flowers are blooming and the birds are singing as Otago
Peninsula's flora and fauna regenerates without significant
predation by possums.
To date, the Otago Peninsula Biodiversity Group has removed
about 6500 possums in the past three years as part of its
quest for a pest-free peninsula.
Group chairman Brendon Cross said in the group's February
update, encouraging reports had come from Otago Peninsula
residents of slow changes taking place where possums had been
reduced to small numbers.
''Greatly increased crops of apples, plums and walnuts,
apricots ripening on the tree, where previously, possums took
David Lyttle, who lives on the peninsula and is the Botanical
Society of Otago chairman, said dramatic changes were
happening around his home, although the reluctance of all
landowners to take part in the biodiversity group's work
meant there were still possums around, although not in such
As possums targeted certain plant species, growing
unprotected roses or strawberries did not work and new growth
and flowers on any bush or tree were eaten by them.
''This year, I've noticed plants flowering that I'd not seen
The effect of fewer possums on the peninsula's native bush
was more subtle but it was happening, he said.
He also had baby tuis on his property which he had not seen
in more than 50 years.
''It seems fairly evident to me that the removal of possums
has increased the food available for native birds such as
tuis, bellbirds and pigeons and will result in increased
numbers of these species.''
Mr Cross said the group was also monitoring vegetation
changes in 10m by 10m plots on the peninsula for similar
There was still work to do and the group was encouraging
residents to report any sightings of possums. A ''mop-up'' of
remaining possums on land from Taiaroa Head to Portobello was
the next phase, he said.