New climate alarm mascot – white ringtail possums

white_ringtail_possumEmbarrassed by the stubborn refusal of polar bears to die out, or even to appear convincingly rare, climate scientists are touting a new poster child species for our collective climate guilt – the white lemuroid ringtail possum.

The possum is restricted to just one mountain range in tropical Australia. Previously numbered in the thousands, the species was almost wiped out by a heatwave in 2005.

“I think this really should be a wake-up call,” tropical rainforests expert and James Cook University researcher Professor Bill Laurance told AAP.

“We’re arguing this is a better icon for global warming than a polar bear because it typifies the type of biodiversity we will lose in the future.”

JUST four white lemuroid ringtail possums have been found in the wild and scientists say the species could soon become the first creature to be wiped out by global warming.

Source: https://au.news.yahoo.com/a/24520231/possum-a-polar-bear-of-climate-change/

h/t to Eric Worrall

However, it may be down, but not out, from 2009:

Reports of white lemuroid ringtail possum’s extinction premature

A RARE possum said to be the first Australian species wiped out by global warming appears to be clinging to survival, if still vulnerable, in north Queensland’s tropical rainforest.

Last year, the white lemuroid ringtail possum was reported to have vanished from high-altitude rainforests in north Queensland. It was the first Australian mammal extinction attributed to climate change.

The white possums are native to the mountains that surround Port Douglas and Cairns. When news of their apparent demise was reported, rising temperatures and global warming were blamed.

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121 thoughts on “New climate alarm mascot – white ringtail possums

  1. How did this species survive the even higher Australian temperatures reported from the 1800’s?

  2. I haven’t been able to find anything that states, definitively, that the white ones are any different than the brown ones…other than color. So if they aren’t a separate species and the brown ones are not ‘wiped out’ then what is all the fuss about?

  3. I would be thrilled if ‘global warming’ knocked out every possum that exists in the world. Nasty, disgusting creatures.

  4. If a single heat wave, regardless of the cause, could wipe out a species, it would seem that “Survival of the Fittest” has deemed it unfit to survive.

  5. climate scientists are touting a new poster child species for our collective climate guilt – the white lemuroid ringtail possum
    No such species. It is just a colour morph of the common lemuroid ringtail possum Hemibelideus lemuroides and white individuals occur occasionally in other areas as well. However it is an excellent candidate for a “climate victim” since the all-white population on the Carbine Tableland is very small and isolated and runs an excellent chance of going extinct fairly soon through inbreeding or purely stochastic processes. The fact that this population consits entirely of the rare and probably maladaptive white morph suggests that it has been small and isolated for a long time or has passed through an extreme bottleneck after becoming isolated.

    Of course one could reinvigorate the population by introducing a few individuals from some other population, but that would be cheating, wouldn’t it? Also they would then only be light cream rather than white, and perhaps lightly less cuddly.

  6. According to the alarmist rumourmongering machine, thousands of species have already been wiped out by ‘global warming’ and now this albino possum, a freak of nature and therefore obviously easy prey, may die out? But now we are told this is only the first species threatened with extinction.

    No wonder there is no such thing as climate science, only ‘climate science’.

  7. well its cute, fluffly and white, and doesn’t I assume, treat humans as potential lunch, so I guess from a pr point of view they cant lose.

  8. I think it is obvious that the planet is in a cooling phase (the data sets would show it if any honest people were involved), but let us suppose for a moment that the planet is going to warm 2-4 C over the next 100 years or so.

    Species go extinct. That is a fact of nature. It has been gong on a long time. So, if some species goes extinct during a warming phase do we automatically claim that warming killed them off?

    Consider the black-footed ferret of the western portion of the USA. We have damn near wiped that species out and if we finish the job during a warming phase can we blame the climate rather than man’s various activities? (like poisoning the ferret’s main food supply)

    This magic CO2 molecule can take the blame for nearly anything! What a great scapegoat. “No sweetheart, I did not mean to cheat on you — I was overcome by CO2 and that is why I screwed her. Honest!”

  9. lea says:

    I would be thrilled if ‘global warming’ knocked out every possum that exists in the world. Nasty, disgusting creatures.

    I presume that you are referring to the american possum Didelphis virginiana. Australian possums are very different, and while the Common Brushtail Possum Trichosurus vulpecula can be something of a pest in urban areas, it is certainly neither nasty nor disgusting and neither are the other c. 50 species, being largely shy, forest-living creatures. And yes, they are quite cute.

  10. vukcevic says:
    July 22, 2014 at 12:53 pm
    How appropriate, or is it Freudian slip, its cousin the common ringtail possum is often confused with the black rat.

    If that is actually true, the average australian must be incredibly ignorant of zoology.

  11. Personally, i am voting for the extinction of academiaticfraud and mediaocracy CAGW Warmists

  12. “tty says:

    I presume that you are referring to the american possum Didelphis virginiana. Australian possums are very different”

    Yes, they are different. In particular, Murican possums swim much faster than Australian possums, especially during the Summer Olympics.

  13. Wait a minute!! I spotted one of them critter last week raiding my garbage can.

    Can someone explain how it got all the way from Australia to Almost Iowa? Oh! Oh! Wait a minute, I know! Climate change!!

  14. species for our collective climate guilt – the white lemuroid ringtail possum….

    well it’s not a species….just a color morph of the regular lemuroid, which is not threatened

  15. Q: How many Aussies does it take to eat a white lemuroid ringtail possum squashed by the roadside by global warming?
    A: Three. One to dine, the other two to keep an eye out for traffic… er … I mean temperature rise.

  16. The new poster child of the cult is a very rare FORM of a stable opossum species. I see this as more solid evidence that they are very desperate and grasping for straws.

  17. Absolutely we should revert to prehistoric living conditions to protect these guys. Look how kyoooot they are!!! How would we, indeed, could we, continue without them? No species of cute animal has *ever* become extinct before now. This truly is a crisis of huge proportion!!!!!!!!

  18. As it is written:

    Sometime in the near future, there will be a new paper discussing the decline of the white lemuroid ringtail possums. This future paper will state that it was not “Global Warming” that caused the decline, but: (Pick one) human encroachment, an unusual increase in predators, a disease, a decrease in the possums food supply, or (insert your own favorite here).

    So shall it be.

  19. Here we go again.

    I was thinking, whenever the university that I graduated from solicits donations I can ask if they have a climate studies program and then state that I won’t donate a dime till the people participating in the climate studies fraud are terminated and prosecuted for fraud. There you go, an idea for dealing with the problem in a small way gratis.

  20. Almost Iowa says:
    Can someone explain how it got all the way from Australia to Almost Iowa? Oh! Oh! Wait a minute, I know! Climate change!!

    Oddly enough you are quite correct. Marsupials dispersed from South America to Australia by way of Antarctica in the Late Cretaceous or earliest Paleogene when it was a lot warmer in Antarctica.
    And then the American Possum wandered across from South America a couple of million years age when the Panama isthmus connected North and South America. And once the last (latest) ice age was over it of course headed for Iowa.

  21. Hi,

    There is a new ‘e-petition’ (UK):

    http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/61879

    “Classify the terms “denier” , “climate denier” or variants thereof as hate speech.

    Responsible department: Home Office

    We the undersigned request that the offensive terms, “climate denier”, “denier”, “denialist” and other variants being used to harass sceptical scientists or other people who do not ascribe to the hypothesis of man made climate change or man made global warming be classified as hate speech in accordance with the Public Order Act 1986.
    Scientists and others should not be subjected to hateful, offensive names in order to diminish their standing or to make them accept a consensus view.”

    I thought it deserved a bigger audience.

  22. Our American possums are robust, with a toothy smile that could be offputting. But the thing to remember is even though they can open the jaws wide like an alligator and give off an impressive hissing sound, they are mostly defenseless. If you pester them long enough they invariable faint, or play possum. They’re not playing. The threat causes their system to be overloaded.
    If by some accident, like if you reached down and picked one up in the dark thinking it was a cat, and it happens to bite you, it’s not like being bit by some other feral creature. Their internal temperature is too low to support the nasty diseases associated with rats or other vermin.

    You would have more of a chance to catch rabies from a feral cat, than from a possum.

    They’re smarter than dogs. One possum who as a baby I rescued from the bottom of a waste bin it had become trapped in, remembered the incident and would approach me without trepidation for the rest of it’s life.
    They have four hands rather than feet. If you could train them, they would make a hell of a piano player.

  23. lea says:
    July 22, 2014 at 12:44 pm

    “I would be thrilled if ‘global warming’ knocked out every possum that exists in the world. Nasty, disgusting creatures.”

    Damn, that would be a shame. O’possums are good eating (especially in a stew), and here in Texas, about 40% of their diet is copperhead and rattlesnake snakes. Seems the little beasties are immune to the venom of pit vipers.

  24. Climate Change Lecture
    Wild weather: Is climate change already taking its toll?
    1 October, 6:30pm – 8:30pm (doors 6pm), Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London, WC1R 4RL. Tickets £14, available in advance only.

    Given by Friederike Otto , Post Doctoral Research Fellow, University of Oxford
    Are the extreme weather events we’re seeing linked to increased carbon in the atmosphere and if so, how do we starve off (?!, stave off, Dr. Otto ) the dangerous consequences of climate change?
    No Thanks

  25. These creatures are in north Queensland’s tropical rainforest. Don’t they carry out some logging there? If you get rid of the trees does the heat get to them? What if its habitat was left alone? Put snails in the desert and they die.

    Lemuroid ringtail possum threats

    The most significant threat to the lemuroid ringtail possum is global climate change. Prolonged exposure to temperatures above 30 degrees Celsius causes this species to loose control of its body temperature, leading to eventual death. The lemuroid ringtail possum is also particularly vulnerable to the adverse affects of climate change as it occupies cool forests at the high end of the altitude range in the region, meaning it has nowhere to go to escape the heat (1).

    The range of the lemuroid ringtail possum has declined greatly over recent decades as a result of deforestation and selective logging (1). This species has been particularly sensitive to the fragmentation of its habitat as, being a strictly arboreal species, it does not cross roads or powerline corridors that dissect its habitat (7). It also does not use habitat corridors (8). The lemuroid ringtail possum population has declined by as much as 97 percent in places where its habitat has become fragmented (2).

    http://www.arkive.org/lemuroid-ringtail-possum/hemibelideus-lemuroides/

    These creatures have lived through many heatwaves in Australias history. Perhaps it the missing trees.

  26. Seriously, you just can’t make this stuff up…

    “JUST four white lemuroid ringtail possums have been found in the wild and scientists say the species could soon become the first creature to be wiped out by global warming.”

  27. Sorry, I forgot to indent the paragraphs starting from

    Lemuroid ringtail possum threats

    and ending with

    The lemuroid ringtail possum population has declined by as much as 97 percent in places where its habitat has become fragmented (2).

  28. Not claiming this source is comprehensive or unbiased, but here’s Wikipedia’s list of 20th-21st century extinctions:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_extinctions#20th_century

    As noted some years ago on these pages by Eschenbach, IIRC, almost all of these extinctions are of island populations that seem to have lost the battle with invasive species.

    I had to laugh at the Costa Rican jungle toad that “may have gone extinct due to global warming”. Really??!! The tropics are the most immune regions to impacts of climate “change”, according to IPCC and all the other “authorities”

    The polar regions are the “canaries in the coal mines”, they all say

    The “unmentionable” extinctions are all of the Pleistocene megafauna that mysteriously disappeared shortly after Homo sp. arrived on the scene. Just gentle Earth-people living “in harmony with Nature”, doncha know?

  29. ” GeologyJim says:
    July 22, 2014 at 2:55 pm

    Not claiming this source is comprehensive or unbiased, but here’s Wikipedia’s list of 20th-21st century extinctions:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_extinctions#20th_century

    As noted some years ago on these pages by Eschenbach, IIRC, almost all of these extinctions are of island populations that seem to have lost the battle with invasive species.”

    Don’t forget to include a number of ‘species’ that aren’t species or probably even supspecies. DNA testing is a wonderful thing…

  30. Where is the autopsy?

    How many acres do they inhabit and how many acres were surveyed and how many were homogenized?

    This is reminiscent of the 4 drowned polar bears survey. Phffft!

  31. I wrote about them in the climate extinction essay for the next book. There are two remnant high tropical rainforest national parks in Queensland where the lemuroid ringtails hold out, victim of earlier extensive logging. Cook U originally claimed the white had been extirpated in one of the two refuges, a victim of climate change. That proved false for two reasons. First, whites were later spotted there. (These animals are strictly nocturnal, and live and browse only in the high canopies of large mature trees. They are very hard to spot, and that is usually done by flash/floodlight causing a yellow reflection from their eyes–from which the fur color cannot be determined.) Second, whites are not a species. They are a genetic variant of the generic lemuroid possum, which is usually chocolate brown. And in both refuges, the brown variants are doing fine and still having the occaisional white offspring.
    This whole thing was an embarrassing ‘crisis’ falsely manufactured by Cook University, since fully debunked ‘downinder’. As bad as the climate endangered American Pika (current EPA website) which isn’t (official 2010 finding of the US FWS). Or the Antarctic Adelie penguins, thriving except at the French research station where a breeding colony was disrupted by blasting to enlarge the runway. Or Churchill’s West Hudson Arctic polar bears. All also covered in the next book, and all thriving despite Warmunist pseudo scientific nonsense and very poor MSM reporting.

  32. A possum once pissed on my head through a vent opening in the ceiling of my bedroom at about 3 am when I was a teenager. White and fluffy or not I will happily wipe them out myself! Where’s ma shotgun, Pa?

    ( just joking folks)

  33. Last few will probably be wiped out by green researchers treading on them while looking for an alarmist photo opportunity.

    I can just see the Guardian/BBC headline now “Global Warming Squashed My Possum”

  34. tty says:
    Marsupials dispersed from South America to Australia by way of Antarctica in the Late Cretaceous or earliest Paleogene when it was a lot warmer in Antarctica.

    They’ve found fossilized possums contemporary with dinosaurs. Cretaceous ocean temperatures were as much as 15 to 20 °C (27 to 36 °F) higher than today’s. So a critter that walked with dinosaurs and migrated to Australia by way of an ice free Antarctica is going to be done in by a 0.6 °C temperature increase?

    .

  35. I sure that fact they are all white allows them to hid quite successfully from feral cats which are no big problem in Australia.
    /sarc

  36. mjc July 22, 2014 at 12:42 pm

    I haven’t been able to find anything that states, definitively, that the white ones are any different than the brown ones…other than color. So if they aren’t a separate species and the brown ones are not ‘wiped out’ then what is all the fuss about?

    The connection is clear, my dear Watson: They are Snow Possoms; why else would they be white!

  37. I got that number for the Cretaceous ocean temperatures 15 to 20 °C (27 to 36 °F) higher than today from the wikipedia, but Willis’ examination of the Argo floats data show the oceans top out in the tropics at 31 °C. That’s the ceiling. They don’t get hotter.

    I doubt those Wiki numbers are any good.

  38. I had been worried about the prospects for survival of the white lemuroid ringtail possum, but now that the Warmistas are claiming that it is a victim of Global Warming (like the Polar Bear), I have renewed hopes that the white lemuroid ringtail possum will be OK and soon prosper.

  39. If these critters survived the MWP, then something other than a warmer climate is their undoing. What is the proof that a warmer climate is killing them off? Oh, oh, oh, I know, somebody threw one into a hot oven and it died. Therefore a slight increase in temp. will kill all white lemuroid ringtail possums. OK, I see now!

  40. Lea says:

    I agree with you Lea. I loathe the things. We’ve lived with them invading our houses in various parts of Melbourne and country Victoria. Dirty, smelly and noisy…Yuk!

  41. Yes. They need mascots. Especially ones that can be made to appear cute and cuddly. Because it’s all about the emotionalism with the Warmists. In fact, Warmism is about as far from true science as you can get.

  42. Rud Istvan says:
    July 22, 2014 at 3:06 pm

    Yep – third time being recycled. I somehow doubt that the habitat has been properly surveyed. Very difficult terrain some of it. Too hot in 2005? Generally the temperatures up here have been lower, in line with the pause/slight decline. This winter has actually been a real one rather than a novelty. Frost at some of those elevations.
    Sub-species of a creature that up here will cheerfully camp in your uninsulated roof space? 40+°C? Only moves on if you install a light?

  43. Well white for critters in the tropics, is the preferred “comeandeatme” color.

    White American alligators are mince meat in the wild too. They usually have to be captured, and palmed off to zoos, in order to survive. We have one in San Francisco.

    If those white megarats escape to NZ, they will do well; but look much prettier squished on the road, than the brown ones.

    Either one has spectacularly lush fur. Make good coats, or sweaters.

    It’s called evolution. Charles Darwin wrote a book about it. I’m not sure if it’s called “Adapt or Die.” but if not, that would be a good sub title.

    g

    Possums are just big rats, or squirrels without fur on their tail.

  44. spetzer86 says:
    July 22, 2014 at 12:37 pm

    How did this species survive the even higher Australian temperatures reported from the 1800′s?

    ============================================================
    Fewer dingos?

  45. Robert of Ottawa says:
    July 22, 2014 at 3:44 pm

    The connection is clear, my dear Watson: They are Snow Possoms; why else would they be white!
    ——————————————————————————————————————————-
    There is the problem right there. There is only snow in Australia for about 4 months of the the year. They obviously have a real problem during the other 8 months …

  46. These white things have a very restricted range? How is what happens to them an indication of anything global?

  47. papiertigre says:
    July 22, 2014 at 2:25 pm

    Great observations about ‘possums. A big, fat one lived under my garden shed for years. He grew unconcerned with my presence after I caught and petted him a few times- their fur is so irresistibly soft. He took afternoon siestas in the low branches of a tree in the yard and we got along just fine.

  48. “””””…….mjc says:

    July 22, 2014 at 3:04 pm

    ” GeologyJim says:
    July 22, 2014 at 2:55 pm

    Not claiming this source is comprehensive or unbiased, but here’s Wikipedia’s list of 20th-21st century extinctions:……”””””

    Well Hooey on that Wiki list.

    They missed the New Zealand Huia, which went extinct early 1900s; probably due to ornithologists killing them for museum specimens. Oodles of extinct birds in museum specimen drawers.

    The Huia was considered unique, in that the male and female have totally different beaks, for exploiting totally different food sources. One long and curved, for getting to the nectar in the Kowhai flowers and the like. The other more robust for eating berries, and presumably insects.

    The male was the source of the distinctive white tipped tail feathers used for the Korowhai (maybe …wai) ceremonial cloak.). The Tui persists, but is but a shadow of the Huia. Both have tufted throats.

    Well as near as I can recall, anyway.

    Nice job ornithovandals.

  49. This same story was bandied about in the year 2000, while I was down there for the Olympics. There were a lot of other reasons given at that time — nothing to do with climate change.

  50. Australia and NZ had many flightless birds that became extinct when the Europeans imported animals to take care of some of the pests, unfortunately the flightless birds were easier to catch and tasted better too!

  51. An interesting account of the lemuroid ringtail possum from UMICH.

    http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/accounts/Hemibelideus_lemuroides/

    Some telling information in the Habitat and Conservation Status sections:
    “Furthermore, lemuroid ringtail possums are found only in mature forests, not secondary or regrowth forests. …Lemuroid ringtail possum populations decreased by 97% in secondary forests compared to primary. …Any threat to their primary forest habitats will severely threaten their populations.”

  52. Utter crap.
    They at cook know that introduced vermin in the form of cats, foxes and domestic dogs just to name a few are the things that are are wiping out our native mammals.
    As somebody else here pointed out it was hotter back in the 1800’s and they didn’t have a problem then.
    Birds were witnessed to be falling out of trees because of the heat in one particular heat wave.
    And l”ll hazard a guess that it had been a damned sight warmer than that through history and they got through that as well.
    But along comes another global warming fraudster and thinks there might be a buck in it plus a little propoganda for the fraud.
    So Prof. Lowrance shouts, abrekadabra and Australia has its own “ring tailed polar bear” dropping out of the trees..
    Somebody needs to call this fraudster out now before it starts costing us.
    If they die out it won’t be because of global warming or at the minute, lack of.
    It will be because of lazy governments and alarmists like Prof. Lowarances failure to address the ever growing problem of introduced predators taking advantage of the easy meals our natives are.

  53. being familiar with aussie possums, i’m sure it will survive.

    however, what is EXTINCT is our carbon tax/ETS, after a battle which saw off two Prime Ministers and a Leader of the Opposition. Nature is not happy, but they can’t spoil our celebrations, no matter how much they lie:

    22 July: Nature: Quirin Schiermeier: Anger as Australia dumps carbon tax
    Climate experts decry demise of emissions-control system
    Australia’s pioneering carbon-pricing mechanism has failed to survive its infancy. In a major victory for Prime Minister Tony Abbott, parliament agreed on 17 July to axe the scheme with immediate effect…
    The move has disappointed many researchers. “This is a big setback for Australia’s climate policy,” says Frank Jotzo, a climate economist at the Australian National University in Canberra…
    But critics say that the scheme has vastly increased consumer electricity prices…
    But Australia’s U-turns on the carbon tax and other climate policies may discourage other nations from being as ambitious as they might have been, says Elliot Diringer, executive vice-president of the US Center for Climate and Energy Solutions in Arlington, Virginia. “Australia’s decision underscores the vagaries of domestic policy-making,” he says. “It saps rather than strengthens the global momentum — but it will not deter a global climate agreement in 2015.”…
    PLUS Karoly, etc…

    http://www.nature.com/news/anger-as-australia-dumps-carbon-tax-1.15601

    22 July: Nature Editorial: The wrong kind of carbon cut
    The repeal of Australia’s carbon-pricing scheme — the first time a nation has reversed action on climate change — sets a worrying example for other countries mulling steps to reduce emissions.
    So how much does Australia’s decision to scrap its carbon-pricing scheme after just two years matter? As we report on page 392, the move was expected and may not directly affect the odds of reaching a meaningful international agreement in 2015 — but it does threaten to undermine the political momentum that has been building up and that must be sustained if the world is to get its act together on the key environmental issue of our time.
    A growing body of research indicates that parts of Australia, already plagued by frequent heat, drought and floods, are excessively vulnerable to climate change and its effect on extreme weather….
    So are carbon taxes and emissions-trading schemes doomed? Certainly not…
    Australia’s decision highlights the crude reality that political decision-making does not necessarily follow the logics of science and economics…
    Australia, one of the world’s richest countries and a leading per capita carbon emitter, must do more to reassure the rest of the world that it is ready to join global efforts to tackle climate change. If it does not, it would send a devastating signal to rising economies such as China that will play a key part in negotiations leading up to an inter­national climate agreement. These nations must be involved in global climate action, but they will hardly be persuaded to sign up if an industrial power the size of Australia falters…
    Abbott has won a political battle at home — but to be taken seriously abroad, he must show that he wants to serve his nation more than he wants to appease the fossil-fuel industry.

    http://www.nature.com/news/the-wrong-kind-of-carbon-cut-1.15595

  54. Two thoughts:

    1. How soft and thick is that white fur?
    2. Can they be bred in captivity if that fur is soft and thick?
    3. Is the meat any good?

    If they are like Willamette Valley possum they breed like cats, thus can produce a lot of furry offspring. If the skins are any good, this seems like a good business opportunity.

  55. Pamela

    Breeding them is problematic, because their nutritional needs are hard to meet. There’ no such thing as Purina possum chow. Slugs, snakes, and rotten fruits are on the menu. Stale pizza seems like a favorite in my yard.

  56. Pamela, that would be worth it, except for the fact that nobody knows if the white color ‘breeds true’. It’s NOT a separate species but, quite probably an inbred color variant of an isolated population.

  57. Pamela Gray
    … If they are like Willamette Valley possum they breed like cats, thus can produce a lot of furry offspring. If the skins are any good, this seems like a good business opportunity.

    I doubt their fur is very good, it just doesn’t get cold enough in that part of the world – snowfall is very unusual, the temperature rarely drops below freezing, even at night in the middle of winter.

    http://www.tablelands.org/weather.html

    (the place is called Middle Earth, after “Lord of the Rings” – lots of verdant, green fields, a perfect climate all year around, and lots of strange hippy types smoking long Gandalf pipes living in ramshackle huts).

    As for eating them, my missus won’t even let me buy kangaroo meat down the local supermarket, despite the fact it is a fraction of the cost of beef, and tastes delicious, so I don’t like my chances of serving up something which looks really cute in tonight’s stew…

  58. Pamela Gray says:
    July 22, 2014 at 6:11 pm

    Two thoughts:

    1. How soft and thick is that white fur?
    2. Can they be bred in captivity if that fur is soft and thick?
    3. Is the meat any good?

    Hi Pamela, here in NZ they are a noxious animal, devastating the forests, so trapping, shooting, 1080 are all used to bring the populations down.

    Add in tuberculosis spreading into the dairy hers that border a lot of the forest areas, and they are a bloody introduced pest.

    But to answer some of your questions

    http://www.basicallybush.co.nz/

    Some people do make a reasonable living trapping possums for their skin and fur.

  59. I was raised to understand that what you shoot you must be willing to eat. My grandpa was a master squirrel hunter and swore there was nothing better than a well prepared squirrel stew. So if I shoot for the pelt, I must be willing to eat the stew.

    As for possum nutritional needs, I have slopped hogs and fed kitchen scraps to chickens. So it would be a cinch to figure out how to feed possum.

    The takeaway message? One man’s varmint is another man’s business. I tried to eradicate marmots at the ranch (and did pretty well at it). Turns out that the Russian marmot is prized for its fur. Who knew? I shoulda been skinning the nasty little creatures. (cept for western marmots are mangy creatures with fur not fit for a hat much less a coat.)

  60. And my dearly love grandpa passed away over a decade ago. So I did not eat the marmots I shot. No thanks! I just needed them to stop pooping on the hay in the barn and chewing up the floor joists!

  61. I used .22 ammo in a long gun with iron sight. Heck, they stand up, bark at you, and hold real still for an easy target!

  62. A tear for the possums and not a tear for the Palestinians murdered in “Operation Protective Edge”.

    Israel DoD naming of operations seems to derive from condom advertisements in porn magazines.

    Some would observe, “Well, that’s Israel”.

  63. One way to tell the difference between New Zealanders and Australians is to watch what they do when they encounter a possum on the road. The New Zealanders are the ones that swerve towards the possum.

  64. chris says: July 22, 2014 at 2:17 pm “There is a new ‘e-petition’ (UK): …… Classify the terms “denier” , “climate denier” or variants thereof as hate speech. ”

    The idea of allowing the government to restrict speech is vile, I want hear what is on someone’s mind. When you put a cork in it – the pressure can only build.

    As for “denier”, I wear that like a badge! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vx-t9k7epIk

  65. Just like the penguins discussed last week, the possums all moved to the other side of the mountain because of all the disruption caused by the study.

  66. Just repeating what other commenters have noted – this is not a species. It’s just a white colour form of the lemuroid ringtail, Hemibelideus lemuroides. The gene (or genes) for white fur would be dispersed in populations of the species, and could only become “extinct” if the entire species disappeared – which not even the wildest greenies are claiming.

  67. Thanks for this Anthony, excellent timing.

    I was just finishing off a post about low genetic diversity and the supposed increased risk of extinction claim aimed at polar bears, took a break to pop over here and look what I found!

    A population reduced to four? Doomed, they suggest? I found several examples of drastically reduced populations that fully recovered with no apparent repercussions.

    If you’re looking for a followup to this story with a bit of meat (metaphorically speaking), have a look. Almost all of the references are open access papers. I worked in a link back here for future reference.

    http://polarbearscience.com/2014/07/22/low-genetic-diversity-will-not-make-polar-bears-more-vulnerable-to-extinction/

    Cheers, Susan Crockford

  68. Cynical Scientst
    One way to tell the difference between New Zealanders and Australians is to watch what they do when they encounter a possum on the road. The New Zealanders are the ones that swerve towards the possum.

    I turned the garden hose on the last possum I caught near our house. The last thing you want is for Possums to feel comfortable around your home, its not just the mess the possums cause, its the horrible parasites they carry.

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/01/17/one-benefit-of-the-australian-heat-wave/

  69. “As the world gets hotter, these creatures have nowhere to go,’’ tropical biology expert Professor Bill Laurance said yesterday.

    Nowhere but up, perhaps? Yes, another 10 Celsius temperature increase and they’ll be forced to migrate to the highest parts of the Daintree National Park.

  70. “Life finds a way.” – Jurassic Park

    Apparently the greenish have self-appointed to be that way and help everythin dats fury and photogenic … for a fee … just a few billion … tis a bargain … nice pelt btw … conveniently slipper-sized too …

    Anyway, to a bit of WX alarmism, it looks like the US is in for a bit of nasty stuff on Monday … brace.

    http://earth.nullschool.net/#2014/07/27/1800Z/wind/isobaric/850hPa/overlay=temp/orthographic=-104.40,40.53,748

  71. GeologyJim: I had to laugh at the Costa Rican jungle toad that “may have gone extinct due to global warming”.

    Whenever I read the words “… may have …”, within anything I hear/read from either greenies, politicians, scientific papers or media reports, I immediately mentally tag it with the words, “… and also may not have …”. Which immediately diffuses all the propaganda and foretune-telling BS that inevitably follows.

    And in all honesty, it’s just about as likely to be true.

  72. Any chance they just moved like the 10,000+ head herd of caribou that they thought had been wiped out in Canada?

  73. Some years ago a local rabbit had a litter of six white babies. Other rabbits had babies at the same time.
    Every evening for six evenings the local tawney owl arrived and carried off one white baby rabbit. It could see them more easily in the twilight.
    Does anything prey on these white possums?

  74. The only Green’s member of parliament, the righteous, pious and holier than though Adam Bandt, will no doubt label the Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, as solely responsible for this foul deed.

  75. Whoever wrote about their wish that all opossums go extinct is operating at an ignorance level that is more than disappointing. It makes this entire community look bad.
    As to the possim in question, call bs: albino variants are incredibly rare in the first place. It is doubtful if this is an actual species at all. Additionally if it is a species, claiming that heat waves in Australia, which is famous for heat waves, is going to drive it into extinction is transparent bs.
    What is likely more dangerous to this animal is habitat loss due to things like deforestation to make room for wind power turbines.

  76. I went ‘possumming’ on a visit in 1969 with my father in law who had a ‘possum line’ in the NZ Catlins district at the south end of the South Island. Possumming was putting out poison bate and making the rounds every several days. He and the mother-in-law had a home on a spectacular lookout at Papatowai on the south coast overlooking the most beautiful estuary and beach I’ve ever seen.

    We also went out at night with a lantern and speared flounder when the tide came up the sandy estuary (a tricky business until you factored in the apparent displacement by refraction of flat target lying on the bottom). A real treat was to get a trout that came out into the brackish water but I wasn’t good enough with the spear for this. Digging cockles and ‘pippies’ in the sand for a cook-up was also part of the idyllic life there. These shell fish could sink themselves into the sand almost as fast as you could dig them. The in-laws didn’t mind the bit of sand in the fry-up but for me they put the shellfish in a pale with groats so that the shells would expel the sand and replace it with oatmeal.

    I also came upon a penguin moulting in a cave – it looked like a plucked chicken and it stood there and shivered away for probably a week or more until it had grown enough down.

    There sure was no danger of these possums going extinct. I don’t know if they are related to the variety of this thread but, if so, there is no chance of losing this species. They are a nuisance. Oh and Pamela? The fur is very soft. One use for it is in lining artificial fibre-making machinery (nylon, etc) to prevent damage to the thread and to take off static charges.

  77. hunter says:
    July 23, 2014 at 3:21 am

    The area is dense rainforest, mostly on hillsides, close to the coast or else at elevations that are innately cooler anyway. Actual heat waves are rare in the area. 1998 was probably about as bad as it gets, so heat is unlikely to be a significant stress.

    Deforestation is unlikely because the entire area is world-heritage listed and it and the reef are major tourist attractions.

    Because it’s a small area it could be vulnerable to a particularly large cat-4 or 5 cyclone hitting the area and demolishing the forest, but those intense storms have been battering the area periodically for the past 10k years so they seem to cope with severe disturbances.

    Personally, I think the ‘environment’ is not as fragile as some vested groups continually apply or assert it replicates and regenerates rapidly and human damage is rapidly overcome and eliminated unless humans persist in an activity. We’ve learned a lot since the errors of mid last century, and frankly the environment is remarkably healthy and vibrant. And as it turns out the cute and conveniently slipper-sized white possums were there all along.

    Don’t mistake dark humor for a lack of responsibility though. Those possums will be OK, and much of the rainforest is basically in pristine condition and not going anywhere. ;-)

  78. Acording to the IUCN they are Near Threatened, that is just one step below Least Concern. The IUCN also agrees that the white ones are NOT a seperate species.

    As far as threats the IUCN says, “There are no major threats to the species at present. Selective logging was a past threat, but now much of its range is within the Wet Tropics World Heritage area. It is very sensitive to canopy removal, and is adversely affected by the construction of wide roads and clearing for power lines resulting in open areas within its habitat. It is likely to be sensitive to global warming as it is found at high elevations (Winter et al. 2008).”

    We know that logging, construction of wide roads and clearing for power lines adversley affect them. None of which are caused by climate change. But it is ‘likely’ that global warming will adversely affect them. So the known threats all have no tie to climate change and there is just a WAG that climate change may be a threat.

    How do these people get away with calling themselves scientists?

  79. ” ddpalmer says:
    July 23, 2014 at 4:33 am

    How do these people get away with calling themselves scientists?”

    Because psychic, seer and astrologist are all taken?

  80. They don’t talk about 2005 being a record heatwave year, so what about previous heat waves, and why didn’t they wipe out the cuddly things before 2005. And if, as they continually shout, the world has been warming since 2005, then why do we still have them living in their normal habitat?

  81. At least they don’t look like they will kill you like a polar bear or a panda bear but I wonder what they taste like?
    Perhaps a bit of garlic!
    I’ll try one next time I’m up there and hopefully it will be the last excuse for ‘environment’ corporations to rip money off people.

  82. NoFixedAddress
    At least they don’t look like they will kill you like a polar bear or a panda bear but I wonder what they taste like?…

    Aussie possums are a significant vector for paralysis ticks and other horrible parasites – if you approach too closely, you’ve got a good chance of experiencing more of what the Aussie bush has to offer than you would like to.

  83. Reply to mjc ==> I believe you are correct == it is not a separate species by any measure, only a rare color variant, with what, if I recall is correct, a recessive gene for white fur. Therefore there are sufficient white possums in an area, they multiply (there are enough white-white breedings to perpetuate the strain). The recessive gene was more prevalent in the Cairns area, thus more white possums.

    Any Aussie biologists out there to confirm? Are we dealing with a color variant caused by a recessive gene?

  84. Informative, funny thread. One local guy was having a problem with large numbers of recently reintroduced wild Turkeys roosting in a tree outside his house. His solution,”Mason Jars”

  85. Jer0me says:
    July 23, 2014 at 5:45 pm
    … and fur seals are now being born 8% lighter apparently:

    http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-28372468

    But could there be a more simple explanation given this is a thirty-year trend? From Wikipedia:

    “Fur Seals
    They are marked by their dense underfur, which made them a long-time object of commercial hunting. … Many fur seal species were heavily exploited by commercial sealers, especially during the 19th century when their fur was highly valued. Beginning in the 1790s, the ports of Stonington and New Haven, Connecticut were leaders of the American fur seal trade, which primarily entailed clubbing fur seals to death on uninhabited South Pacific islands, skinning them, and selling the hides in China.[4] Many populations, notably the Guadalupe fur seal, northern fur seal and Cape fur seal, suffered dramatic declines and are still recovering. …”

    And the BBC article actually says: “… The fur seals gather in huge numbers on beaches of Bird Island and all around South Georgia. …”

    So the population has been exponentially recovering, and is still growing, so just maybe it’s now running into the limits of available food, for more and more mouths each year, thus the mothers can eat less, so their pups are getting lighter.

    But that would be an environmental success, right?

    And nasty humans are innocent on all counts! … well we can’t have that! lol

    Next ‘they’ll’ be militating that the (non-disclosed rapidly recovering numbers) seals are endangered by a pending global ocean food-supply collapse … caused by humans!!! … of course … rotters …

    For we have no innate right to eat fish as we are really aliens, an introduced galactic pest that did not evolve on this planet and are not a key part of the natural planetary food-chain and have not survived in spite of all challenges and thus earned our place in it and to eat from it without feeling guilty about it. Oh, hang on … none of that’s true, we are in fact native to the planet and the competition between species is otherwise known as survival-of-the-fittest, the most adaptable, and the outcome of that competition leads to the bulk NET evolution of the entire biota, and not just the evolution of individual isolated species.

    And this has always be the case, aerospace technology notwithstanding,

    So the seals are currently benefiting hugely from the dewy-eyed greenie’s feeling or inferiority and guilty about humans being cleaver and being able to eat fish, so they militate for dumbness to prevail instead, because they are rather anti-competitive, on energy and on global evolution based on the natural tot and fro of survival of the fittest over time.

    So are we proud to be human and play our part in the planetary web of life, or brow-beaten into insane apologetics about daring to build things like A380s, and Hubble space telescopes, and fishing fleets and eating fish and chips?

    Well, good luck to the fur seals, but I’m going to eat krill rissoles if I want to, I may even have a fur seal BBQ, if they become to prolific … for the good of all those pup’s weight gain.

    But the more curious question is why do such BBC ‘stories’ (and others like the BBC) constantly put one side of the available explanations for observation? Did the scientists involved not use their brain, or did they really only give the BBC a jaundiced view of the possible explanations? Or did the BBC get the whole story but cheery-picked an ‘explanation’ which it liked and wanted to emphasis, and thus excluded others that were more reasonable or sensible?

    Somehow the one-sided explanations/theories published are almost always in the direction of weird and extravagant doom, an AGW or CAGW bias, rather than prosaic commonsense accounts for an otherwise trivial but not quite insignificant observation. The way in which this comes about is more intriguing than the original science observations regarding pup weights.

  86. This is recycling news from 2008 – 2009.
    The Australian “Greens” need a mascot and this possum suits nicely as it certainly is cuddly.

    As for their survival…….clearing of their forest home has probably had more impact than any effects of warming [if there has been any].

    Their range is quite restricted and took quite a hit from Tropical Cyclone Larry in 2006.

  87. They had considered changing our football mascot to the possum because they played dead at home and got killed on the road.

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