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The intelligent and resourceful possum was introduced into New Zealand from Australia in the mid19th century for the fur trade. It is now generally loathed by the population, who hold the marsupial accountable for ruining forests and decimating the bird population.
The ‘war on possums’ is waged in New Zealand from the Government down. Motorists try to kill them if they see them on the road at night. School children go on hunts to see who gets the highest body count, and the school celebrates their success in gala days: parents and children ‘toss the poss’ or ‘dress up the poss’ for prizes. The rural schools who carry on these activities maintain they support and strengthen the links between the school, its community, and its surroundings.
Such thinking is at the root of all that is wrong with our relationship with other animals. New Zealand needs to address the problem of possums but there are other, more compassionate ways than putting a bullet in their heads leaving their joeys to starve, or making them die a painful, lingering death through 1080 poison.
”Through developing an intelligent and sophisticated approach to conservation, guided by compassion, we may begin to heal our troubled past with the Earth and the animals who live here”.