Next step in Western ringtail protection campaign

Nature Conservations Western Ringtail Possum Coordinator, Lauren Scanlon with Western, the local Western Ringtail Possum.
Nature Conservations Western Ringtail Possum Coordinator, Lauren Scanlon with Western, the local Western Ringtail Possum.

People in the South West will soon be seeing 'Pets away, possums play' stickers appearing on bins around Margaret River this month, as Nature Conservation Margaret River Region (NCMRR) begins rolling out another step in the campaign to protect the critically endangered western ringtail possum.

The campaign, created and launched by GeoCatch in 2019, has had great success in the Busselton region.

NCMRR's Western Ringtail Possum Coordinator Lauren Scanlon said they were grateful to GeoCatch for establishing and sharing the program with them.

"We are looking forward to spreading this further in the south west region, to protect this iconic and critically endangered species," she said.

"Outside the south west of WA, these creatures occur nowhere else on the planet, and we are incredibly fortunate to have western ringtail possums living alongside us in our backyards, reserves and forests.

"This campaign is a great reminder that we can all help to protect them by keeping our pets inside at night, allowing possums to safely move through their habitats."

Possums and other urban wildlife are active at night when they are most at risk of harm from pets.

"Sadly we do see possums attacked and killed by domestic cats and dogs roaming at night," Ms Scanlon said.

"By containing cats and dogs at night, pet owners are also keeping their pets safe from car accidents and animal fights."

Once widespread from Perth to Albany, the species is now listed as critically endangered.

It has been estimated that the remaining population size in the wild is less than 8,000 mature individuals, with a decreasing trend.

Recent research predicts there is a 92 per cent likelihood that they will be extinct within 20 years if action to protect populations and their habitat isn't enacted immediately.

Western ringtail possums are found in foreshore areas along Wooditjup Bilya - the Margaret River - as well as bushland blocks and urban backyards.

Nature Conservation's Wooditjup Bilya Protection Officer Michelle Keppel said the town site of Margaret River was an important habitat for ringtails.

"Containing pets at night benefits the biodiversity of the broader Wooditjup Bilya catchment by allowing possums and other native wildlife a safer link in the landscape," Ms Keppel said.

Nature Conservation's Western Ringtail Possum Conservation Program is funded by the National Landcare Program through the South West Catchments Council and generously supported by the Augusta Margaret River Shire.

The program is also currently running a Ringtail Tally to better understand ringtail numbers living in local gardens, on properties and in bushland reserves.

The Ringtail Tally runs from 10 April to 9 May. To get involved visit www.natureconservation.org.au

This story Next step in Western ringtail protection campaign first appeared on Augusta-Margaret River Mail.