Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract Full Text

Targeted mop up and robust response tools can achieve and maintain possum freedom on the mainland.

Abstract

Unfenced sites on mainland New Zealand have long been considered impossible to defend from reinvasion by possums, and are thus unsuitable for eradication. In July 2019, we began eliminating possums from 11,642 ha (including approximately 8700 ha of suitable possum habitat) in South Westland, using alpine rivers and high alpine ranges to minimise reinvasion. Two aerial 1080 (sodium fluoroacetate) applications, each with two pre-feeds, were used. Here, we detail the effort to mop up existing possums and subsequent invaders in the 13 months following the aerial operation. Possums were detected and caught using a motion-activated camera network, traps equipped with automated reporting and a possum search dog. The last probable survivor was eliminated on 29 June 2020, 11 months after the initial removal operation. Subsequently, possums entered the site at a rate of 4 per year. These were detected and removed using the same methods. The initial elimination cost NZD 163.75/ha and ongoing detection and response NZD 15.70/ha annually. We compare costs with possum eradications on islands and ongoing suppression on the mainland.