Possum Trapping in New Zealand

Anyone is able to trap possums on their personal property in New Zealand but there are certifications and best practice guides which will allow you to do this with confidence.

There are two certification schemes associated with the quality control of possum trapping, but anyone can trap possums in New Zealand as long as they follow relevant legislation. 

The underlying legal requirements for trapping

a) Meeting the Animal Welfare Act requirements - trap types, frequency of checking etc;
b) Any outcomes required through the catchment's Regional Pest Management Plan;
c) Terms of any agreement for trapping on other land tenure.

The two certification schemes

The National Pest Control Agencies used to manage the list of accredited possum monitoring, field trapping and monitoring design operators. This function is now run though Biodiverse Ltd. in collaboration with Bionet. Accreditation relates to how possum traps are laid and set so they can be used as part of an Residual Trap Catch (RTC) calculation. The RTC is used to determine the efficacy of a possum control programme and the humane treatment of trapped possums is also covered. Traps must be set in a specific way, at specific distances and in specifically designed, predetermined locations. For more information on this training go here

The New Zealand Fur Council Certificate is not intended as a replacement to the above certification which is designed as an industry standard but provides market assurance for people trading in possum fur. The Department of Conservation, in conjunction with the New Zealand Fur Council encourages fur harvesting by providing access to conservation land to hunters. For more information go here

Animal welfare in fur recovery

Hunters and trappers must adhere to laws including the Animal Welfare Act 1999.

Trap users have a duty of care for the welfare of the animals they capture. The conduct that is, and is not, permissible in relation to any animal is covered by the Animal Welfare Act 1999 – that is to prevent unnecessary pain, suffering or distress.

The New Zealand Fur Council also endorses the International Fur Trade Federation commitment to the Agreement on International Humane Trapping Standards – that is that any traps used for any reason must reach a humane standard which, requires the animal to be killed outright and quickly. Traplines must be visited within a day of being set and leg hold traps must be non-toothed.

Hunters generally use leg hold traps or cyanide paste for fur recovery.

Cyanide is considered the most humane poison of the six poisons currently registered in New Zealand for possum control. It is rapid action (possums are rendered unconscious within six minutes and die in 10-20 minutes compared with 1080, 4-12 hours; Brodifacoum, 1-2 weeks; or Pindone, 2-3 weeks). Cyanide has low environmental persistence, and low secondary poisoning risk (other animals unlikely to die if eating dead possum).