Australian Journal of Zoology (2013) 61, 95-100
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Brushtail possums: do present law, policy and management approaches meet the needs of this species in all its contexts?
Australian Journal of Zoology 61 (1), 95-100
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.
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