Catch and release possums

The Department of Planning, Industry and Environment may grant a licence to persons or businesses to catch and release possums for the purpose of mitigating damage to property.

A biodiversity conservation licence may be granted under Part 2 of the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 that permits handlers to legally catch and release possums from commercial and residential homes and backyards in accordance with the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment possum management policy. Possum handlers operate under strict licence conditions to ensure human safety and protect animal welfare.

Possum management policy

Possums can cause damage to commercial or residential property, particularly roof cavities of buildings. The best way to avoid having this is to maintain your roof in good condition so a possum cannot enter it.

In circumstances where this is not possible, we can grant a class of biodiversity conservation licence to the landholder of a property to have a possum removed from a roof cavity and released back onto the property in a safe location. Alternatively, the landholder may seek the services of a catch and release possum handler.

Possums are protected in New South Wales, so in order to avoid harming the animal, the licence granted to a landholder or a catch and release possum handler will stipulate the following conditions:

  • The animal must be captured live and released back onto the property on which it was captured. Possums are territorial animals and research has shown that dumping possums in locations (including local parks) too far from the original point of capture will greatly increase the chances of it not surviving.
  • Possums are released after sunset, against a structure they can immediately climb. Possums are arboreal animals that generally occur mostly in trees safely away from dogs.

The capture or otherwise harming of possums other than by a licensed person or commercial catch and release possum handler is illegal.

Licences to property owners are granted on a case by case basis. However, managers of sites of public significance such as hospitals, schools and nursing homes may be granted a 1-year licence on the provision that a management plan for the site has been prepared.

Catch and release possum handlers can apply for a licence from the Wildlife Team. The licence costs $30 each year.

A commercial catch and release possum business owner can apply for a licence and authorise employees to operate under the terms of that licence. Renewal of the licence is contingent upon submission of an annual report.

Licence holders including catch and release possum handlers are strongly encouraged to permanently seal potential entrances to roof cavities to avoid ongoing problems with possums.

Licence conditions and application forms