A question we are often asked is 'Why do you use Possum fur?'
Australians especially have concerns about the use of an animal which, in Australia, is a protected species.
Possums were introduced to New Zealand in 1837 but didn't catch on so someone had the bright idea to try again and in 1858 Possums were brought in again from Australia. The idea was to create a fur trade but the unforeseen ramifications of that introduction were very long lasting and quite devastating.
Possums have gone on to become NZ's worst and most destructive little critter! They eat anything that isn't caged so our trees are eaten from the top down - leaves, buds, flowers and fruit and from the ground up they eat saplings, seedlings and sometimes bark. But they also favour some of our natives very highly and have driven some to near extinction. Add in that these furry critters also carry Bovine Tuberculosis and along with ferrets are responsible for 70% of new infections. So cuddly and cute they may be but they are truly not a great addition to New Zealand.
It is estimated that these (undeniably cute) destructive marsupials chomp through 21,000 tonnes of vegetation a night. That is abundantly not sustainable and add in that they are decimating our bird life because eggs and chicks too are considered a delicacy and that makes this an environmental disaster on a large scale. Between 1980 and 1986, 19,612 possums were killed on Kāpiti Island. (Kāpiti Island is 10 km by 2 km roughly) Bird counts between 1982 and 1988 showed that the density of birds doubled so it shows clearly that Possums have a serious impact on our bird life.
Kereru (Wood Pigeon)So, New Zealand has a difficult situation that we have to find a solution too. Possums were taken off the regulated list back in 1946 but the population has just continued to explode. It isn't an easy project as evidenced by the numbers but NZ have a few options underway and one is using accredited Hunters to keep the numbers under some control but with estimates at over 70 Million possums we are not going to see control for many many decades to come. So New Zealand have come up with a pragmatic option of using the fur from this pest and making an industry from something that is devastating.
Here you can see what happens to a Mamaku (black tree fern) when grazed by a possum and what happens when the Possum Population is controlled.
The Possum fibre is amazing! It is a hollow fibre so it retains warmth and is 55% warmer than wool alone. It is incredibly warm and also incredibly soft so it is a delight to wear and is ideal for winter wear.
New Zealand Possum fibre is recognised around the world as being green and ethically sound. Hunters and trappers must adhere to laws including the Animal Welfare Act 1999. Trap users have a duty of care for the welfare of the animals they capture. The Possums that are caught are not farmed - they are totally feral and a pest - they will never be farmed here in New Zealand. Eradication is the only hope we have with this pest but rather than creating a by-product that is just discarded - the Possum Fur is now being used in clothing products. Possum Merino jumpers. hats, scarves, gloves, snoods, capes and ponchos are all the most beautiful addition to your wardrobe.
Explaining to people from countries all over the globe that we use the fur from an animal that is killing our native flora and fauna is often entertaining but ultimately people do understand the need to control this little blighter.