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Injurious Wildlife Listing - Brushtail Possum

Date Posted: January 17, 2003

In a final rule published on June 11, 2002, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service adds the brushtail possum (Trichosurus vulpecula) to the list of injurious live mammals under the Lacey Act (18 U.S.C. 42 as amended). The best available information indicates that this action is necessary to protect the interests of forestry, human health and safety, and wildlife and wildlife resources from adverse effects that may result from purposeful or accidental introduction and subsequent establishment of the brushtail possum populations in the ecosystems of the United States.

Brushtail possums have few natural enemies; are voracious eaters of flowers, berries, leaves, bird eggs and small mammals; may compete for food with or displace native wildlife; can transmit bovine tuberculosis to humans, livestock, and wildlife; and can cause major damage to pine and hardwood forests. Between 1837 and 1930, about 200 brushtail possums were released in New Zealand to establish a fur industry. Since that time, they have spread across 95% of New Zealand and the population is around 70 million. Eradication efforts in New Zealand have failed, so efforts are focused on managing established populations and controlling the spread to new locations. Control methods in the U.S. are limited to trapping and shooting.

By adding brushtail possums to the list of injurious mammals, the Service prohibits the importation into or transportation between the continental United States, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, or any territory or possession of the United States of any live brushtail possum. Live brushtail possums can only be imported by permit for scientific, medical, educational, or zoological purposes, or without a permit by Federal agencies solely for their own use; permits will also be required for the interstate transportation of live brushtail possums currently held in the United States for scientific, medical, educational, or zoological purposes. However, this action prohibits interstate transportation of live brushtail possums currently held in the United States for purposes not listed above.

Kari Duncan, 703-358-2464.

Injurious Wildlife Species; Brushtail (Trichosurus vulpecula)[Federal Register: June 11, 2002 (Volume 67, Number 112)]

Last updated: June 12, 2015