Some years ago, most Europeans did not know possums at all. Attention
has to be paid that Possums should not be mixed up with the
Opossum (Didelphimorphia) of the Americas.
The first Possums (Tichosorus Vulpecula) were imported from Australia to New Zealand in the 1840's by fur traders. That was where the mess was born!
Some of these night-active marsupials escaped from the farms and started to become an ecological catastrophe for the environment. Possums quickly adapted and thrived in this lush, predator free environment. Up to now Possums have endangered and destroyed large parts of New Zealand's flora and fauna by eating trees and plants such as ferns systematically.
The trees and plants have no chance to recover from this ordeal. Sadly enough Possums are a threat not only to the flora - they endanger the Kiwi and Kakapo as well by eating their eggs and chicks. Both native bird species are extremely endangered. Even the penguins are not secure from them! As possums are not endemic to New Zealand they had and still have no natural enemies. This enabled them to multiply their population up to the almost horrifying figure of some 70,000,000 animals eating each night more than 21,000 tons of plants! Possums have infested 92% of New Zealand's three major islands!
In order to stop this, New Zealand's government declared in 1936 possums a
pest and started in the 1940's a program to cull the possums. Nowadays
the government is investing the incredible figure of more than £20,000,000 every
About 30 years ago, the New Zealanders have started to gain income from this resulting resource.
Being famous for their talent of improvisation and development of new ideas the New Zealander made a virtue out of necessity and have started to use this newly gained resource by using the bodies in many ways:
• The meat is being exported to Asia under the name "Kiwi Bear".
• The pelt is used for insoles in shoes or other products such as fur blankets or garments.
• Blended with Merino, silk or nylon Possum fur is nowadays spun into precious high-class wool and yarns.
As a result, a sad but ecologically necessary measure has become an economic success. Even the national groups such as SIRCET or the WWF are now laying out traps in order to protect other animals from the possums.
Even if you are an ecologically thinking person, trying to
live to the highest standards of responsibility for Mother Nature, you
can make use of Possum Wool with a clear conscience. It saves a fragile
eco-system and habitat and every purchase helps to finance the very
costly measures to regain control and natural development of the
original wildlife of New Zealand.
The purchase of Supreme Possum Merino yarn is another step in the conservation of New Zealand, as 5% of every sale by SPM goes into the preservation of New Zealand's environment and endangered wildlife.