The Enviroschools Project Pest Control Programme is a huge success, opening-up real opportunities for students including educational qualifications (NCEA credits), career pathways and the very real potential to make a living from possum fur.
The programme started with Project Possum in 2011 and evolved to include Project Mustelid in 2016 and Project Rodent in 2017. The three initiatives were combined into Project Pest Control the following year and now enjoy considerable success in the battle against pests.
Northland Regional Council (NRC) and Can Train NZ tutors run the theory and in-field based programme, supported by local industry. Students learn about the biology and impact of animal pests and are shown how to trap and kill them humanely, and how to skin possums and machine and hand pluck their fur.
As part of the best practice learning during the two-day skills course, tutors start with the life of the pests, establishing the creatures as living, breathing animals deserving of our respect and humane treatment.
Humane leg-hold traps are used to trap possums, and the students are taught how to place them and set them to cause the least discomfort to the animal while also placing the trap beyond the reach of Kiwi.
After a few weeks, to allow for pest control practice and completion of theory work, an assessment day is held. At this workshop, students are put through their paces and investigate a variety of biosecurity career pathways.