AS READERS will be aware, Andrew Bolt is a great favourite at the Billabong, but even the most enlightened and decent folk can sometimes succumb to irrational and impractical prejudices, which the columnist has done today with an update in regard to his loathing of possums. Now it is true that possums are annoying creatures, forever fornicating on the tin roof of the Billabong’s garage and rousing a poor Bunyip from his slumber. But they were also here before us and, in their own way, a reminder of just how silly greenish sorts can be. Anyone who reads the Phage, for example, will be aware of those regular reports on mankind’s damage to an allegedly pristine Australian environment, which is a very black-and-white affair according to the advocates of environmental abstraction. What those sorts fail recognise – and Andrew falls into the same trap – is that our environment is a dynamic affair and that humans are very much a part of it, as we have been since the first dusky migrants arrived on the continent 70,000 years ago and clubbed into extinction all those wombats the size of Volkswagens. New eco balances were struck, species faded and others bloomed, and urban possums are but the latest example.
Andrew laments the damage to his roses and bulbs, but it is those same tasty plants that have so boosted possum populations. Much the same thing can be said of flying foxes, seldom seen in Melbourne in the Sixties but now ubiquitous. Andrew’s real problem is not possums but the romanticism that has produced laws and regulation forbidding their sensible management. According to the prevailing green nostrums, possum mischief must be tolerated because their booming populations are “natural”. It is the obverse of that same philosophy which says cows must not set hoof on the High Country because it, too, is “natural”, despite having been altered and transformed by more than a century and half of white intervention. Until the prejudice against humans is stripped from environmental laws, their purpose will remain the hopeless pursuit of an idealised state of nature.
As to Andrew’s problems, there are several solutions. First, he should get himself a fox terrier. If possums invade his ceiling, popping the dog into the roof space will see a mass exodus. The dog will enjoy it too.
Second, get an eager cat. Your average moggy will find a full-grown possum just a bit too much to handle, but possum kittens are short work for any semi-competent cat. Every day for a week last breeding season, the Billabong’s recreational killer left another dead possum baby on the kitchen floor. The local possum population seems a bit smaller this year and the murderous moggy now slumbering beside the Billabong computer is the likely cause.
One thing Andrew shouldn’t do is trap the little buggers and release them far away. Apart from being illegal – and wouldn’t The Age just love to report that the columnist luvvies fear may soon be running things at Fairfax is a tormenter of wildlife -- possums are quite territorial and deal severely with intruders. Moving them means death and neighbouring populations will only expand into the vacated territory.
Full disclosure: Possums are a favourite at the Billabong, where several have been nursed back to health during heatwaves, which they do not like at all. A restorative diet of Monte Carlo biscuits and condensed milk does the trick.