The combined efforts of farmers to address the issue of possums on their farms has led to a significant reduction in the number of pests, so much so that where there once was a plague of possums, there is now an influx of native birds, Hawke's Bay farmer, Bruce Wills says.

And now with the announcement of Predator Free 2050 in Hawke's Bay, the goal of possum eradication is within reach, some believe.

The former Hawke's Bay and national Federated Farmers president said farmers supported predator eradication programmes.

"Hawke's Bay has been one of the more significant possum areas in the country and that we have been funded to pursue this possum eradication on part of our farmland is very exciting and we are certainly fully supportive of it.

Advertisement

"Possums have been a major challenge for the farming community, so we are very enthusiastic and supportive of any endeavours to reduce the numbers and that's obviously what we've been doing over many years but now to move to the next step which is possible eradication that's really exciting."

Not only were possums detrimental to the native bird population, bovine TB affected farmers' livelihoods. In TB-risk areas, possums cause the majority of new herd infections in farmed cattle and deer.

On his Trelinnoe Station, the numbers of possums were "astronomical" - "devastating the natural flora and fauna".

Through the likes of the OSPRI TB-Free programme, he now only sees one to two possums a year - "it has been an incredible turnaround".

"Hawke's Bay Regional Council were very supportive and they've been highly successful with possum control measures for many decades.

"For the first time ever in this country we're going to have a go at eradication of possums in a confined area so this is going to be watched closely by all of New Zealand and if we can, I guess, prove the concept at a sensible price and we achieve eradication then we will be using those learnings and the technology that we use to spread that eradication programme across the country."