“Perfect honeymoon” removing possums in a New Zealand-first

Monday 28 January

A new married couple are spending their honeymoon removing possums in New Zealand’s first large-scale possum eradication operation, as part of Towards Predator-Free Taranaki.

Newly-weds Andrea and Max Hoegh say they’re happily spending their honeymoon working with Oākura residents to help eradicate possums in the coastal Taranaki town.

“We just love the native wildlife and plants here so much, we couldn’t think of a better place to be  – it’ll be the perfect honeymoon,” says Mr Hoegh, who’s admits to working a little on the zero-possum operation on his wedding day earlier this month.

Their work is part of a New Zealand-first, multi-faceted operation to reduce possums to zero density across about 8,600 hectares, on urban, farm and conservation land between the Timaru Stream and Oākura River, below Carrington road, to the coast. 

The couple’s urban zero-possum work has been underway since October 2018, already catching almost 200 possums in Oākura, but they only returned to the beach side town today (Friday 25 January) after celebrating their wedding in Ireland, where the bride hails from. They’ve been working in the zero possum area, for Taranaki Regional Council, together with Oākura locals, community groups, Taranaki Mounga Project and Taranaki Regional Council, as part of Towards Predator-Free Taranaki.

However, the newly-wed couple are calling on Oākura residents to help eradicate possums - reporting any suspected possums in the area to them 24/7 on 0800 736 222

“We can’t do this by ourselves.  We need residents’ eyes and ears to report any suspected possum sightings, sounds or signs of this predator,” Mrs Hoegh says.

The good-natured bride says she is happy to receive calls anytime 24/7 from the public to help get rid of possums.

It’s fair to say the couple are possum obsessed, says Mr Hoegh, who’s been hunting since he was six-years-old.

“I’m really happy to be back in Oākura, we just love it here and it’s going to be even better if we can eradicate possums,” Mr Hoegh says.

When the pair get a suspected possum report, they will visit the area assess it and then set a live trap, ensuring the safety of any children or pets.

Their work is considered critical to help restore Kāitake’s biodiversity, allowing native birds like kaka and kiwi to return to the area, by eradicating possums. Possums are notorious for feasting on native plants, birds and their eggs.

However, Mr Hoegh says Oākura has already been tainted by the possums, for him.

“I can’t look at a piece of bush now, or a panoramic view of Oākura’s stunning coast line, without thinking of all the potential possum habitat.

“It’s ruined the view, a little bit, but that’s ok. I’m happy helping residents restore Kāitake by making it possum-free,” he says.

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