The couple who delayed their honeymoon to catch possums in Taranaki have needed themselves 300 furry pests.
Earlier this year Andrea and Max Hoegh returned from their wedding in Ireland and post-phoned their honeymoon to help eradicate possums from urban Oākura.
Since January they have caught more than 300 possums from urban backyards, parks and reserves in Oākura and surrounding rural properties.
The seaside town is part of a New Zealand-first trial to be possum-free as part of Towards Predator-Free Taranaki – a region-wide project removing possums and stoats from around the mountain.
The possum-free trial covers nearly 4500 hectares and is the first time a trial of this size has been attempted across different land types in mainland New Zealand.
The husband-and-wife-possum-hunting team and their two dogs work with locals, responding to reports of suspected possums in an attempt to remove possums within the target area.
Max says they’ve been blown away by the overwhelming support of private landowners, who are giving the couple complete access to their property for rural predator control.
“This has been instrumental to our work,” he says.
An intensive detection programme to find more possums is currently underway, using a variety of methods such as thermal imaging and motion-sensor cameras.
A defence network of self-resetting traps, protecting the possum-free area from re-infestation, is also being set up around and throughout the area.
Andrea and Max are confident they’ll catch the remaining possums in the Oākura township with the support of residents and their two possum dogs.
“Locals have been great,” Max says.
“Our possum dogs are going well also. They will be critical to locating the final possums.”