Mobile groups to tackle possums

Guerrilla warfare tactics will be used on any possums left over from a major eradication campaign on Otago Peninsula.

The Otago Peninsula Biodiversity Group would now use ''highly mobile'' groups of people that could respond quickly to public possum sightings, manager Cathy Rufaut said.

''It is very much the community being the eyes and ears and us responding very quickly.''

The group has spent the past three years taking back land from possums and has almost completely cleared the peninsula north of Hoopers Inlet and Portobello.

The project was now starting to pay dividends with native plants making a comeback in many areas.

Ms Rufaut said long-standing conservation volunteers in the area had observed native plants recovering from possum predation.

Department of Conservation programme manager biodiversity assets for coastal Otago David Agnew said he had also heard the stories of plant life recovering on the peninsula.

''That is what you would expect and that is what we have heard,'' Mr Agnew said.

Another big project would need to be done to clear the possum population from Portobello and Hoopers Inlet back towards the main residential areas of Dunedin.

A large swath of land bordering those residential areas would become a buffer zone where trapping and monitoring was ongoing.

Next month, a major education programme would begin with public meetings, leaflet drops and workshops for peninsula residents.

She said it was amazing how well informed most peninsula residents already were.

''We do a lot of trapping where people live and poison in open farm land. There are very, very strict guidelines.''

Workshops for residents, showing them how to trap possums, would include a sweetener of ''a cup of tea and cakes'' (for the humans).

The group was still looking for more sponsors, Ms Rufaut said.


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