Opossums and Tuberculosis in New Zealand
There is today no country in which man has not acted either as an agent of destruction or creation, New Zealand is no exception. In the early 1840's man once again started to influence the environment with the introduction of animals in to New Zealand. One predator that is causing a lot of concern today and threatens our wellbeing as an export primary producing nation is the Bushtail Possum or Australian Phalanger, commonly known in New Zealand as the "Coon". The possum was introduced and liberated mainly for material gain. It was thought at the time that the possum would enhance the environment and provide a much needed income as well, through its capture and sale of fur. The POSSUIIl is now regarded not only as a destroyer of our flora in indigenous forests but a major source of Bovine Tuberculosis among dairy, beef and deer in many areas of New Zealand. The goal of the newly formed Animal Health Board and MAF Qual is not to eradicate the possum, which of course would be an impossible task, but to eradicate tuberculosis in possums. To really understand the problem you have to understand the animal and its habits. To man it is largely a hidden enemy because of its nocturnal habits, thus it is not visibly seen to be a menace. Extensive field research is needed in the future as the epidemiology of the possum is not well understood, according to Prof. Roger Morris, who is currently involved with possum research in the Wairarapa.... [Show full abstract]
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