Never listen to a cat should he proclaim that it’s a marvellous night for a moon dance, possums. In fact, such occasions could soon become downright deadly!
As anyone who’s negotiated rural roads at night will tell you, possums become transfixed – then often flattened – when faced with bright lights. So, in efforts to eradicate these nocturnal pests, one particular university boffin appears to be researching by the light of the moon.
“If I can discover their preferences and am able to predict whether a full moon would make a pest more active, increasing the likelihood of it encountering bait or a trap, then we could decide when it is worth deploying controls. It’s a fine tuning of our battle plan,” Lincoln University student, Shannon Gilmore, explains.
In addition to possums, stoats, rats and mice could also be dealt with more cost effectively as a result.
“We’re waging a war on pests. We need to discover their weaknesses. What trait do all four have in common that we can take advantage of?
“They are all nocturnal, and many nocturnal animals dramatically reduce their activity with the full moon, while others can become more active,” Shannon adds.
“It costs millions every year to control their populations… Conservation work has a reputation for a general lack of cash and any savings tend to be warmly welcomed.”