NZ's first sole ranger assigned to control 'gnarly' possums on Banks Peninsula

Possums are running rampant on Canterbury’s Banks Peninsula, but their days could be numbered with the country's first dedicated ranger on the case.

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The pests have been responsible for 55 power outages in the area this year, so a new plan is in place to control them. Source: 1 NEWS

The pests have been responsible for 55 power outages in the area this year, and now the Department of Conservation and lines company Orion are partnering up in a bid to control them.

With an estimated 600,000 possums in the area, Orion will be funding the country’s first DOC ranger who will be solely dedicated to controlling possum numbers there for the next five years.

Department of Conservation’s Andy Thompson says when you have gnarly pests you need to vary the methods and ways in which you get rid of them.

“Possums will often canopy the trees to stop new shoots coming away,” he said.

“We'll be doing everything we can from trapping, to feratox (bait), to ground laid tea bag poison on a tree.”

The possums are also causing major damage to lines in the area, often knocking out power to hundreds of homes, farms and businesses.

This year Orion has seen a 45 per cent increase in the number of possum strikes across its network.

Orion general manager Steve MacDonald says they climb up the pole or jump to the line from vegetation which causes outages that can be momentary but sometimes last a long time.

“If we can demonstrate the programme works there may be an opportunity to move wider in the future,” said Mr MacDonald.