Western ringtail possum's home chopped down

Peppermint trees with western ringtail possums living in them have been chopped down on the corner of Duchess and West streets.

Passerby Jo Abbott noticed the construction work on Wednesday and saw a black shape in one of the trees which was in the process of being ripped down.

Ms Abbott said the black shape was a critically endangered western ringtail possum and its baby in the tree top.

“I started making phone calls, a guy came over and tried to shoo me away and I told him, I was not going nowhere,” she said.

“I noticed the baby possum on another branch which was trying to get to its mother, luckily it made it because they were pulling the branches down.”

FAWNA volunteer Lorellyn Tomlinson said she found about the possums through Facebook and rushed down to the scene after a call out was posted.

“This is utterly unacceptable,” she said.

Ms Tomlinson said possum spotters were supposed to check peppermint trees before they were pulled down and the problem now was that the other tree close by had already been ripped out.

“These poor guys need two acres of peppermint trees otherwise they have to be moved,” she said.

“Where does this mum go with its baby? 

During the day, Ms Tominson said the possums would normally be curled fast asleep in the tree and you would not see them in the branches.

“She is obviously in for a huge day, and this is why they are endangered because she will just sit there and take it, whereas a brushtail possum would have gone, ‘see ya’ and take off.

“This is why they are endangered because of their natural habitat being destructed and coming down. If this tree does come down, she will cross the road and get squished by a car.

“The other problem is if they are relocated they die, there is such a lack of knowledge when it comes to these guys.”

City of Busselton director of planning and development services Paul Needham said the carpark development was approved by the Southern Joint Development Assessment Panel as part of the expansion of the Busselton Central shopping centre.

“Removal of some of the trees in the area is necessary to accommodate those works,” he said.

“The City has also received plans providing for replacement plantings, including some reasonably mature WA Peppermint trees, although they will certainly not be mature enough to replace the Western Ringtail Possum habitat value of the trees to be removed.”

Mr Needham said the city understands that the development has received the necessary environmental approvals Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions.

He said the city was aware of the community concern for the Western Ringtail Possum.

“The city has in the past attempted to introduce additional controls, but the City’s proposals were not ultimately supported by the Western Australian Planning Commission and Minister for Planning,” he said.

Mr Needham said the formation of the Western Ringtail Possum Working Group would be providing findings and recommendations to council in early 2018.

BCP Civil were contacted for comment but did not respond by the time of publication