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Modern Mysteries

Mystery as severed possum tails litter highways

By T.K. Randall
March 22, 2020 · Comment icon 12 comments

Possums are considered a major pest in New Zealand. Image Credit: CC BY 2.0 Brisbane City Council
Commuters in New Zealand have been left puzzled by the appearance of possum tails all over the roads.
The perplexing phenomenon, which has been reported in the central and northern regions of New Zealand's North Island, has become a topic of hot debate on social media in recent days.

This isn't even the first time it has happened - back in 2015 there were similar reports of severed possum tails being dropped all over the nation's roads and nobody was able to solve it then either.

At the time, there were literally thousands of them stretching across hundreds of kilometers of road.

One witness, Lesley Blackmore, recently followed a trail of tails from Ohakune to Mangaweka.
"At first we thought they might have been some type of plant and then we thought perhaps they were furry hedgehogs," she said.

Some Facebook users have suggested that the tails may have been placed deliberately on the roads, however it remains unclear who would do such a thing or why.

There's also the question of how they managed to acquire so many.

As things stand, an explanation to the mystery continues to remain elusive.

Source: New Zealand Herald | Comments (12)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #3 Posted by An0n1m0us 4 years ago
I cannot wait to read the comments on this article. I'm sure some will say it is a prank, and others will say it's a demented person. How easy is it to catch an opossum which is a nocturnal mammal?  
Comment icon #4 Posted by Barryh1986 4 years ago
Maybe the next stage of possum evolution. Gotta catch em all!!!
Comment icon #5 Posted by Seti42 4 years ago
I was thinking that too. Tails are often left behind when prey are killed. Even the cat I had growing up left many mouse tails on the floor for us to find every winter. (Winter being when the mice would come into our house, of course.)
Comment icon #6 Posted by Ausvaldo 4 years ago
Chinese love possum. No eat tail though Cut tail off, discard and cook with a blowtorch in approximately 5 minutes. They are being harvested in bulk and processed on the move. WAKE UP WORLD
Comment icon #7 Posted by Hammerclaw 4 years ago
That is so weird, Is there a bounty on them, since they're invasive and pests? Taking their tails would be the easiest way to show how many you harvested. The one's we have around here are about the size of a cat. Good eatin' fried with sweet potatoes. 
Comment icon #8 Posted by Spyda (Leigh) 4 years ago
The explanation is a bit boring but as a rural kiwi i can shed some light.. Possum fur in NZ is big $ There are many trapers and hunters across the nation that collect the fur from possums to sell. You can get anywhere from $3 to $15 per possum based on the market, season and area the possum is from (fur thickness changes). A half decent trapper/hunter could easily make a a couple of hundred dollars a day at times. Different fur can fetch different prices too. Tails are usually a thick black fur, harder to pluck and more coarse quality wise than the soft grey body fur. So often tails are sold ... [More]
Comment icon #9 Posted by Hammerclaw 4 years ago
Welcome to UM. What's the story on how and why they were introduced into New Zealand and are they present on both the North and South Islands?
Comment icon #10 Posted by jules99 4 years ago
"But in New Zealand, where brushtail possums were imported long ago for the fur trade, remote cameras have revealed they like meat, showing them killing and eating robins, honeyeaters, keas and other parrots, and even adult kiwis." "They are thought to be one reason the South Island kokako appears to be extinct." 
Comment icon #11 Posted by Spyda 4 years ago
Thanks for the warm welcome. As far as I am aware, they are found throughout New Zealand except on a few small islands. I have heard that the ones down the South Island are much bigger and have much thicker fur than those in the North Island. As jules99 mentioned, they were introduced for the fur trade in the 1930's and spread rapidly to become our biggest pest. They also introduced rabbits in the 1980's and they too spread rapidly and became a pest. While both animals are quite cute, they are very damaging to the ecosystem. Bounties were offered by governments for both possums and rabbits i... [More]
Comment icon #12 Posted by Hammerclaw 4 years ago
Fascinating creatures. The only native marsupial north of Mexico here is the Virginia Opossum. It came up from South America during the Great Exchange, after the Ithmus of panama formed and connected the continent's. It has a hairless, prehensile tail.  

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