The Brushtail Possum ( Trichosurus vulpecula ) was first brought to New Zealand from Australia in 1837 with the view to establishing a fur trade. Until 1940 the possum was protected from hunting to maintain the population. But the possum was a very successful animal in New Zealand conditions. Without any natural predators the population quickly rose and the animals spread across much of the country. With the rising numbers of possums the destruction of the native and exotic habitats which it invaded became more and more clear. When studies began to show that the possum was a major carrier of tuberculosis (Tb vector) and was implicated in the spread of the disease to farm animals such as cattle and deer the possum was finally recognised for the pest it certainly is in New Zealand.
Possums are omnivorous, feeding on trees, shrubs, pasture and even bird eggs and insects. They are selective browsers of native trees and alter the ecosystems in which they live. Possums strip the foliage from mature trees and then return to eat the new growth frequently with the result that the tree dies.
Target Pest is New Zealands premier Tb vector control operator. Target carries out large and small scale possum control operations, protecting the ecosystems of all parts of New Zealand.