Possums in New Zealand are Out of Control

The Only Good Possum Is A Dead Possum

Let’s put this into perspective. New Zealand has a total population of 4.5 million people, 45 million sheep, and between 80 and 90 million possum. The possum is not indigenous to New Zealand. It was originally imported from Australia by the British when they discovered there were no fur-bearing animals in the country. They probably rubbed their hands together in glee, dreaming of all the money they would make from selling the pelts of the furry little varmints. Well, the possum fur business was never successful but the possum population thrived. Possum are now so prevalent that they are a danger to the forests in New Zealand, as it is estimated that they strip and eat upwards of two million tons of foliage a day. Everywhere I went I heard and read about possum. Every bus driver expounded on possum. One driver insisted there was a point system for running over the critters – ten points for an easy hit, 20 points if he has to swerve, and 30 points if he has to back up to finish the job. The government pays trappers for every pelt. Everywhere there are signs posted, telling people to kill possum in order to save New Zealand’s forests. This gives Aussies a start when they visit, as the possum is a protected species in their country.

Skinning a possum in New Zealand

Skinning a possum

Yesterday’s bus trip between Franz Josef and Greymouth brought home how serious these folks are about eradicating possums in New Zealand. We made a rest stop at the Bushman’s Cafe and Bar, way out in the middle of nowhere on the northern reaches of the west coast, where they are best known for their Wildfoods Festival each March. We stepped down from the bus, where the owner of the cafe was skinning a couple of possum he had trapped. He said in his younger days he could skin one in about 45 seconds flat – lovely. I wandered around the rustic cafe, reading the various hand-lettered signs:

“If you’re smoking, you’d better be on fire”

“Breakfast until 10 AM, lunch until 3 PM. If you’re here for dinner you’ll be charged with breaking and entering.”

Possums cuisine in New Zealand

Guess what they do with all those dead possums

The Puke Pub on the west coast of New Zealand serves possum

The Puke Pub also serves possum…hmmmm

Outside again I discovered what they DO with the possum they trap, aside from selling the fur. In front of the cafe was this advertisement for possum pie and across the street at the Puke Pub (accent over the “e” in Puke, for the French version of the word, about which I shall remain mute), they were hawking possum delights. Ahh, I should have guessed – this is, after all, the home of the world famous Wildfoods Festival. Let’s hope the possum don’t evolve any time soon – if they do, the Kiwis are seriously outnumbered…….

3 Comments on “The Only Good Possum Is A Dead Possum

  1. We were just surfing the web when we stumbled upon this Possum queen and king. NICE. When you get a chance stop by our website at http://www.northcarolinapossumdaychapter.com Where you will find the formula for happiness. Catch the Possum fever before it disappears. Have a Happy Possum Day.

  2. Very interesting web site that you all have here in New Zealand. We all hope when you get a chance you all can stop by our web site at http://www.northcarolinapossumdaychapter.com That’s where you can find out about all of the details for our upcoming 2nd annual North Carolina Possum day festival right here in the heart of the piedmont.We won’t be skinning any Possums, but I will be introducing my new batch of Possum Licker, which I’m brewing up now as you read this. Until then, Have a happy Possum day !!!!!!!

  3. We were just searching the web for possum related names when we stumbled upon your site which is very interesting. If you get a chance stop by our little site at http://www.northcarolinapossumdaychapter.com We are having our 2nd annual Possum day festival this coming September in the great state of North Carolina, however we don’t eat possums. Have a happy Possum day !!!!!

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