DOC replies to pos­sum ru­mour

Newslink - - NEWS - By RACHAEL KELLY

The Depart­ment of Con­ser­va­tion has scotched ru­mours that dead pos­sums sourced from the Catlins - a Tb area – were be­ing spread in the Waikaia For­est to test de­com­po­si­tion rates.

‘‘We will be sourc­ing pos­sums ei­ther from the Waikaia area or from Fiord­land if we have [pest] con­trac­tors over there,’’ Owaka field base ranger Ch­eryl Pullar said.

‘‘As there is no Tb in the Waikaia area. We’ll be mak­ing sure we’re not in­tro­duc­ing it into the area.’’

Pullar be­lieved the ru­mours started as amisun­der­stand­ing.

‘‘I think it’s hap­pened be­cause I’m from the Owaka of­fice and I said that we would be us­ing pos­sums from ‘our con­trac­tors’ and they’ve thought the pos­sums were com­ing from over here.’’

The method of test­ing de­com­po­si­tion rates was stan­dard op­er­at­ing pro­ce­dure, she said.

Dead pos­sums and rats were placed in cages at dif­fer­ent al­ti­tudes and mois­ture lev­els.

Their rate of de­com­po­si­tion was mon­i­tored to de­ter­mine when it was ap­pro­pri­ate for the pub­lic to use the for­est safely af­ter the planned aerial 1080 drop. The pos­sums were sourced from con­trac­tors be­cause they had to be in good con­di­tion.

‘‘They can’t have any in­juries that could be­come in­fected.’’

Photo: JOHN HAWKINS/FAIR­FAX NZ

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