Some of you will already know the story about why there was a possum in my washing machine (at 1am). Apart from the “ceiling rugby”, I am generally tolerant of living with native animals. However, the relationship became frayed when I started to discover paw prints at various places throughout my house and eventually saw a (brush) tail hanging down from the fireplace one evening. I had no choice but to call “possum busters” who I assumed would catch and relocate the offending possums. Well, that was before I became aware of the maze of legislation and regulation created by the Bio-Diversity Conservation Act 2016 (BDCA).
Possums, in fact nearly all native fauna (except dingoes), are protected (Sch 5 BDCA), which means (section 2.1) that you can’t harm (or attempt to harm) them, unless you have a bio-diversity conservation licence (which is what you’d need if you wanted to go roo shooting). “Harm” is defined and includes “kill, injure or capture“.
Interestingly, the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 (NPWA) (which is the origin of a lot of the BDCA) has a different definition of harm (“includes hunt, shoot, poison, net, snare, spear, pursue, capture, trap, injure or kill, but does not include harm by changing the habitat of an animal“).
Okay, so the possum busters need to licensed. But that’s not all. There is a “Possum management policy” made pursuant to the NPW regulations (because it hasn’t been updated to BDCA?). Under that policy (clause 15) “A possum must be released on the property and not more than 150m from the point of capture. The possum should be released against a structure that they can immediately climb such as a tree or fence.” 150m doesn’t seem very far to me (it’s because they are territorial). Anyway the possum man explained to me that they patch up all the access points and install a 1 way door so the possum can get out of the roof but not back in.
I assume that the possum that was locked out of its home in my roof, thought that when the back door was opened that night it was an invitation to come back in. Anyway, after a face to face encounter with me, I chased it and it became cornered in the laundry. Seeing the open door on the washing machine it decided to take refuge in there. With a bit of prodding, I finally encouraged it to leave.