1) Not a fan of North American possum opossum or whatever, the marsupial with too many teeth and a hiss that scared my cats in Berkeley. I had enough to do, chasing off raccoons with broom/hose nozzle on "Warp 9 Force Field" without these slow, nasty creatures as well. I guess it's good, if they eat small snakes, but I could actually do with a snake or two.
2) The New Zealand possum is a pest. Out-and-out pest. It's a carrier of bovine tuberculosis and a marauder on plants in NZ. No native predators, it was up to people to instigate a successful campaign against these possums. Now, according to [url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Possum]this Wikipedia article[/url], the population of NZ possums in New Zealand has fallen from 70 million to 30 million, about half of the pre-1980s population.
Why are they in New Zealand? Because someone, at some point in time, thought, "Wow. I could start a FUR INDUSTRY in New Zealand!"
And then came the situation similar to that of rabbits in Australia, eucalyptus in California, and other invaders we can think of (French snails in California...), where there are no natural predators and the invader goes wild.
I found out about the NZ possums from my gardening/knitting BFF, who visited NZ several years ago and went on a yarn-buying--oops, stash-enhancing--spree. I read the labels of many of these yarns, and saw the expected "100% New Zealand merino" and such (merino wool is the softest sheep wool around).
Then I came to some yarn that said "65% merino, 35% possum." I was revolted. I said, "How can you buy stuff like this?!" I mean, BFF is a Quaker and just barely *this side* of being a vegetarian. She definitely is not
, as I am, in favor of violence to squirrels or other garden pests, so finding yarn with the word "possum" on its ingredient label was more than shocking: it was stomach-churning.
She explained that it was a whole 'nother species, a pest species dangerous to cows and sheep, and that it was also a threat to native forests and plants, stripping trees of their leaves, etc. That New Zealand had, after long discussions and a couple of non-violent alternatives which just didn't work, thrown in the towel and was now waging all-out war on these pests. One way to avoid it being a total waste of animal product and human effort was to use the pelts/coats in clothing.
I still find it disturbing (weird, the little compartments we put different animals into), but at least I understand *why* the New Zealanders had to do it. After all, the Aussies had to do something drastic about the rabbits, too. Island nations don't have the luxury that continental nations do; their ecologies are more restricted, and negative effects run the full cycle more quickly. The possums and the rabbits made their effects felt quite soon, and the people and their governments had to take--and did
(BTW, I haven't seen a possum/opossum/diprododont since we moved to El Cerrito in 1997, and we seem to live west of raccoon territory. I've seen a raccoon on our street only once, and evidence of raccoon visitation one other time since then. I'm happy about both of these circumstances; if I never see another possum/etc. or raccoon in my yard, it'll be too soon.)
Sunset Zone 17, USDA Zone 9