Nothing is Impossumble for the IB Boys

Thursday 10th September 2020

'...Predator Free Dunedin bestowed the responsibility of maintaining a predator-free Tolcarne Avenue to the 2020 IB cohort...'

By Archie Dunn

Among the 9 strong IB cohort of 2020, nothing is more common to each than their mutual loathing of the possum population of Tolcarne Avenue. Each week, armed with spring-loaded traps, baits and lures, 9 young men journey to the town belt to protect their territory.

Supervised by Brendan Porter and Predator Free Dunedin, the possum trapping programme continues to be one of the most rewarding experiences undertaken by students at John McGlashan. Each week the cohort learns more about how to better do their job and ultimately learns how to think like a possum; to more effectively take out possums whilst protecting the local community of house cats.

First, the region was peppered with peanut butter smeared chew cards, in order to judge first if possums inhabit the area. The boys examined the chew marks against exemplar possum teeth configurations and, given the extent and the density of chewing in the area, it was determined that the possum elimination programme was required.

The next week, a total of 6 traps were screwed into trees with fluorescent lure smeared directly below. The choice of tree was determined by the degree of claw markings on each, although care was taken in deciding whether or not these claw marks denoted a feeding tree or a territorial tree. Traps were marked with GPS coordinates because IB boys are, generally speaking, not the best orienteerers - especially given the dense shrubbery of the town belt.

With the promise of continual weekly return to the habitat, Predator Free Dunedin bestowed the responsibility of maintaining a predator free Tolcarne Avenue to the 2020 IB cohort: the results of which will soon be uncovered.