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Hands-on Possum Control Training an Enviroschools First

Hands-on Possum Control Training an Enviroschools First

More than 50 Northland students are to gain hands-on knowledge of possum trapping, fur and pelt recovery in what is believed to be a national first for the popular Enviroschools programme.

Enviroschools Northland, the Northland Regional Council, the Department of Conservation and a private trainer have joined forces to offer ‘Project Possum’ through which participating students are able to earn NCEA Level 2 and 3 credits.

Susan Karels, the council’s Regional Enviroschools Co-ordinator, says the training stems from twin desires to offer participants the chance to earn the NCEA credits, as well as create potential job prospects for young Northlanders.

It is also a great opportunity to help control a pest which has a significant impact on the region’s environment.

To her knowledge, it was the first time the Enviroschools programme (a whole-school approach to environmental education) had offered such training anywhere in New Zealand.

The students – typically senior secondary pupils - will learn about the biology of possums, the traps used to control them and applicable techniques, skills and lures etc.

They’ll also learn the ins and outs of plucking and skinning possums, including preparing fur and skins for sale.

The training – led by Northland Enviroschools Facilitator Marty Taylor -is being offered in both the Whangarei and Far North districts and comprises day-long skills workshops and two-day assessment workshops.

More than 50 students (27 from each district) are expected to attend with their schools meeting the $150 per person cost of the training.

The first skills workshop will be held on Thursday this week (subs: Thursday 01 September) at the Tangihua Lodge in the Whangarei district , with the second due to be held in the Far North at the Ratea Scenic Reserve on Thursday, September 08.

The two-day assessment workshops – to be run by Geoff Allinson of Can Train NZ – (subs: crrct spells Allinson) will be held in the Far North on September 20 and 21 and again in Whangarei on September 22 and 23.

Mrs Karels says once the training is complete, Enviroschools Northland and several students from Te Kura Taumata o Panguru would begin a pilot programme that would see them set up a small business to trap local possums and sell their fur and/or skins.

The New Zealand Association for Environmental Education had already contributed to the pilot via the purchase of 20 humane possum traps worth about $400 which the students could use until they had paid for them through fur/skin sales.

Depending on the success of the pilot, it could ultimately be rolled out to other Northland schools, possibly as early as next year.

Mrs Karels says information about the Enviroschools programme generally is available from the regional council’s website via: www.nrc.govt.nz/enviroschools

ENDS

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