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Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 61(1)

Brushtail possums: do present law, policy and management approaches meet the needs of this species in all its contexts?

Tracey Catherine Russell A D, Ellen Geraghty B and Sarah Wilks C

A Australian Wildlife Genomics Group, Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia.
B 9/1 Calder Road, Dundas, NSW 2117, Australia.
C Sustainability and Environment Research Group, School of Law, University of Western Sydney, NSW 2751, Australia.
D Corresponding author. Email: tracey.russell@sydney.edu.au

Australian Journal of Zoology 61(1) 95-100 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/ZO12125
Submitted: 5 December 2012  Accepted: 30 May 2013   Published: 11 June 2013


 
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Abstract

Brushtail possums (Trichosurus vulpecula) have been variously described as endangered, pests, prized native wildlife and, recently, as a potential meat export. This article reports information on the increasing decline of the brushtail possum and on attitudes towards these animals. The ‘fit’ between values and attitudes and prevailing governance arrangements is assessed. While the range of this animal is certainly shrinking, areas do exist where the brushtail possum is present at high or very high densities. It is in these areas of high possum density (some urban areas and certain agricultural regions) that conflicts arise, both over the ‘identity’ of the brushtail possum and as to what would be appropriate management. It is argued that although brushtail possums enjoy significant legal protection, these provisions are treated as a nuisance to be circumvented by many residents in areas where possums are in high abundance. Existing policies on possum management somewhat unhelpfully focus attention on situations where possums are overabundant, thus overshadowing situations where active management of declining possum populations would be appropriate.



Additional keywords: attitudes towards native fauna, wildlife law and policy, wildlife management.


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