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Melbourne Mayor Robert Doyle focusing on wrong pest

Mayor Robert Doyle has recommended that powerful owls be encouraged back to Melbourne's parks in order to reduce the possum population. He may be desperate for publicity, but he is giving a poor example. It sounds mean to possums, which he misrepresents as 'vermin' and might encourage still more cruelty to them by ignorant people. An anonymous contributor writes, "Mayor Robert Doyle is focusing on the wrong pest. ..." (This article first appeared as a comment by Nimby, "Melbourne Mayor Robert Doyle's war on possums," to

Article by "Nimby."

Melbourne Mayor Robert Doyle's war on possums

Melbourne's Lord Mayor Robert Doyle is threatening to unleash a brigade of predators - powerful owls - to fix our problem possums. Cr Doyle yesterday declared war on the "exploding" population of "vermin".

He says, "I know they are protected, but I come out of my house in South Melbourne and I'm virtually waist deep in possum poo."

Next year, nesting boxes designed to attract powerful owls will be placed in Royal Park in Parkville, and the Fitzroy and Flagstaff gardens in the city.

Powerful owl

The Powerful Owl is symbolic as being one of the supreme nocturnal predators in the forests of south-eastern Australia, They are forest dwellers which rely on areas of old growth forests that contain mature, live hollow bearing eucalypt trees that can be hundreds of years old. The main component of the Powerful Owl diet across its range is Ringtail Possum, this may be supplemented by other arboreal possums and gliders depending on the geographic location and prey present, eg Greater Glider, Brushtail Possum, Sugar Glider, Yellow-bellied Glider.

Ironically, the powerful owl is Vulnerable in Victoria. They are adversely affected by the clearfelling of forests and the consequent conversion of those forests into open landscapes, but the species may persist in forests that have been lightly or selectively logged. Thanks to VicForests! Here we have contradictory policies from State and Local government.

More trees needed for native animals

Rheya Linden from Animal Active branded the Mayor "ignorant". The human population explosion has meant that native trees are being chopped, and the number of exotics have increased. What we need is an ecological balance, with MORE native trees!

Too many humans too ignorant to recognise our natural wealth

Mayor Robert Doyle is focusing on the wrong pest. Why not clean up all the alcohol venues and the drugs and violence in Melbourne's streets, and make it safe like it used to be? The violence and crime is not coming from possums, but feral humans! We can't fight against Nature and pretend we are a European city. Australia is a country called "mega-diverse", which means we are rich in flora and fauna. This is part of our natural wealth, and it needs to be embraced, not trashed.


There's no mention of any deliberations of zoological experts over this or any ethics committee. What are the powerful owls supposed to do when they run out of habitat and prey in the city? Since it is obviously hyperbole that Cr. Doyle is waist deep in possum poo in South Melbourne, what other reasons does he give for such extreme steps to be taken against possums? No reason given in the newspaper articles.