Ecological scientists and policy agencies have identified possums (Trichosurus vulpecula) as a pest of both biodiversity and agricultural production. However it has been unclear whether farmers would take action to control possums for biodiversity reasons if their potential threat to agriculture was reduced. In 2002 a survey was made of New Zealand livestock farmers, of whom 85% had control measures in place. From the data, a regression model was developed for predicting farmers’ intentions to control possum numbers. The model had a squared multiple regression co-efficient of 62%. The individual regression coefficients all had F probabilities <0.001. It is apparent that possum control on farms is mainly undertaken to reduce the threat of bovine tuberculosis (Tb) in cattle. Farmers are also more likely to take steps to control possum numbers when they consider it will reduce pasture damage, contribute to an overall reduction in farm pests, and reduce damage to their fruit trees and gardens. Control is discouraged by risks of poisoning farm dogs and high costs. Policy agencies will need to work with scientists to provide the information landowners need to encourage their greater commitment to possum control even when the Tb threat has been reduced.
Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 63, Queenstown, 66-68, 2003
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