Date: 10 August 2012
An adult possum has been photographed and filmed floating on a log near Wellington’s Kapiti Island.
Alan Wood, Mike Maybe and Joshua Morgan (Alan’s nephew) were fishing on 8 July 2012 when they spotted the possum floating on a log about 60 metres from the western side of Kapiti Island.
They saw the possum twice, first at about 11:00 am, heading south with the outgoing tide and then again at 3:30 pm heading north. Alan Wood took photographs and a film with his cell phone and passed them on to the Department of Conservation (DOC) on 27 July.
This is the first time DOC’s Kapiti Wellington Area has seen evidence of a possum floating on driftwood and they believe that this could be how a stoat arrived on the predator-free island in 2010. Monitoring and trapping is continuing since the presence of the stoat was confirmed, but the prospect of a stowaway possum would not pose the same level of threat to the island sanctuary. DOC spokesperson Colin Giddy says that the worst case scenario would be if the possum was a female with a male joey.
“In that instance there would be a breeding population after one to two years when the male reaches sexual maturity. Possums generally have only one young per year,” said Mr Giddy.
However, Mr Giddy adds that it’s unlikely that this animal washed up on the island. Staff have been scouring the beaches for the very distinctive wishbone-shaped log which will have a number of possum scratches and possibly possum bite marks, but it has not been located.
Possums were eradicated from Kapiti Island in the 1980’s and this sighting highlights the effort required to keep our off-shore islands predator-free. The island is now home to some of the rarest wildlife in the country and one of the nation's most important sites for bird recovery.
DOC urges the public to contact the DOCHOTline - 0800 36024068 immediately if they suspect animal pests on or approaching any of our offshore islands.
Further information about visiting conservation islands
Before you visit Wellington and Kapiti conservation islands, please check for pests.
What to do if you find a pest in your gear before leaving
- Get rid of the pest and clean your gear again
What to do if you find a pest on your boat or in your kayak
Make sure the pest has been destroyed before you land
- Don't throw rats/mice overboard as they can swim
- Return to the mainland to deal with the pest if you need to
What to do if you find a pest on a commercial boat
- Tell the crew what you have found and where it is
The adult possum floating on a log near Kapiti Island