“This is the first new textile in 200 years,” said Dr. Helen
Varner, dean of Communications at HPU. Varner recently visited
New Zealand and was introduced to the new gear. She purchased
several articles including sweaters and gloves, for friends
and family on the mainland.
The products available aren’t just limited to clothing. They
also use the fur to create stuffed animals, rugs, and ladies
handbags. Other uses include leather and wool for textile usage.
Gray Fur Trading Co. is currently exploring new uses for the
fur as well.
The brushtail possum is more than a pest in New Zealand. From
Australia, it was first introduced in 1837 to establish a fur
industry. In its native land, which is mostly desert, the brushtail
possum has many predators, such as owls and Tasmanian devils,
which keep its population low. With no natural predators in
New Zealand, and a decrease in the demand for fur, the population
of the brushtail has increased rapidly to over 70 million. It
is estimated that these animals eat about 21,000 tons of vegetation
every night. Trees, plants, and even birds now face extinction
as the possum is destroying their natural habitats.
Now that the possum has become a menace, the New Zealand Department
of Conservation has a $6 million budget dedicated to controlling
it. They also encourage public trapping, which has been legal
since the late 1940s.
The success of the new textile has encouraged Gray Fur Trading
Co. to market their wares globally. They are hoping to create
enough world-wide interest that it will be possible to harvest
enough possum fur to reduce the population to levels the environment
The products are environmentally friendly, as the death of
each possum means more of New Zealand’s forests, animals, and
habitats are saved from extinction.
For more information, visit www.possum-NZ.com.