More stories of the NZ possum problem/industry.
My fascination with the New Zealand possums . What I thought was a joke when I wrote in an earlier blog about possum hunters is not. Possums are serious business here. As a matter of fact, today I learned that the NZ government spends $1.5 million per week …PER WEEK…trying to solve the possum problem. Possums have no know predators and like to eat the juicy green leaves of many of the indigenous trees. Naturally, having met possum hunters, I was curious about who bought the fur and then what it is used for.
In the past couple of days, I’ve gotten my answer. In Fox Glacier and Hari Hari – names of two towns we’ve recently cycled through – I read signs like this: “Possum Fur Buyer – Good Prices paid for Fur- Inquire Within”. These signs are in front of the local market/cafe/helicopter ride company/bus station. These signs are in prominent tourist locations which makes me wonder if just anybody like retired cycle tourists or backpackers or fly fishermen can bring in a possum fur for some extra cash.
I’ve seen lots of entrails of animals which I assume to be from a possum lying on the side of the road, but the fur is missing. These piles of guts make me wonder if the driver who caused the “road kill” immediately jumped out of his car, brandished his hunting knife and skinned the beast right then and there, knowing he would make some cash for a cappuccino at the next town. As a matter of fact, Eric and I have even joked that we could skin some of the dead possum on the side of the road to help with expenses.
Then, with all the possum fur being bought, I was wondering what it’s used for. Today, in Hari Hari, at a cute store called “Crafts” I learned the answer. Possum fur is soft, light weight, and quite warm. Mixed with Merino wool and a little silk, possum “items” are a real functional and pricey souvenir for all those tourists shopping for NZ Made. There are scarves, gloves, hats, sweaters, and socks. And, today, thanks to the heavy, eight-hour downpour and the strong southerly winds bringing an Antarctic blast of cold air, I decided join the ranks of tourists who buy an item made with possum. I’m currently warming my toes with my new 40% possum, 50%merino, and 10% silk socks. According to the KORU label, these socks provide “extreme warmth, comfort and natural antibacterial (this really sold me) properties.” I’ll let you know how they work out.