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New Zealand Journal of Forestry (2021) 66(3): 45
©New Zealand Institute of Forestry

Plant and possum rights

Hamish Levack *,1

*Corresponding author.

Abstract: Because possums are mammals, it is clear they can suffer like us, but it took a while before this was acknowledged and mitigated by regulation. During the 1950s, the Wildlife Service would pay two shillings and sixpence for evidence of a dead possum. Only gin traps, with metal jaws designed to seize an animal by a limb, were generally available. A possum caught this way might be in agony for several days, which most trappers were oblivious about. To avoid such suffering, the sale and use of gin traps was curtailed by the Animal Welfare Act 1999. Because possums are active nocturnally they are not easily controlled by shooting, but other sophisticated systems aimed at diminishing their numbers in relatively humane ways were developed, including the use of 1080, cyanide and other poisons. Nowadays, various ‘compassionate’ possum traps, such as the selfsetting ‘Goodnature’ and the ‘Flipping Timmy’ instantkill traps, can be purchased online.
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