Biological control of possums
Biological control will be an important tool in the long-term management of New Zealand's possum problem.
Landcare Research is part of a national consortium (the National Research Centre for Possum Biocontrol) developing immunocontraception to be used to reduce possum breeding.
The possum's own immune system is being used to interfere with the process by which sperm fertilises the egg. The immune system is tricked into thinking that proteins that make up part of the coat of the egg are foreign, and the response stops female possums producing eggs and/or interferes with the fertilisation of any eggs produced.
At the same time, suitable delivery systems are being developed that could take the form of either a bait that can be fed to possums from bait stations or an agent that can transmit naturally from possum to possum.