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Western Ringtail Possum

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western-ringtail-possum_imgThe Geographe Catchment and particularly the Busselton area has one of the most significant remaining Western Ringtail Possum (WRP) populations (of which there are only three).

Conservation status

The WRP has been listed as specially protected fauna that is rare or likely to become extinct under the WA Wildlife Conservation Act 1950 (WC Act) since 1983, and is ranked as Critically Endangered in WA under Department of Parks and Wildlife policy using IUCN criteria. It is listed nationally as Vulnerable under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) and as threatened (Vulnerable category) in the IUCN Red List (IUCN 2012).

The WRP has disappeared from 90% of its original range due to:

  • – Land clearing for agriculture and urban development
  • – Logging and burning of southwest forests
  • – Predation by foxes and feral cats
  • – Attacks by domestic cats and dogs
  • – Being killed by traffic as they try to cross roads
  • – Poisoning by rat and snail bait
  • – Relocation to unsuitable habitat
  • – Diseases such as toxoplasmosis which is carried by cats

A high level of threat to the species exists within the catchment due to clearing of habitat for urban development. Peppermint trees (Agonis flexuosa) or peppies as they are known locally make up to 95% of the diet of the Western Ringtail Possum in the wild.

Ongoing community concerns raised with GeoCatch about the Western Ringtail Possum in the Busselton area led to the initiation of the Peppies for Possums Program. The Program aims to protect the habitat of the Western Ringtail Possum through population surveys, weed control, site preparation and planting of Peppermints in priority areas and awareness raising in schools and the wider community. As coastal development continues to boom around Busselton, helping save the western ringtail possum from extinction is as important as ever. GeoCatch will continue to work with the community to protect an important biodiversity icon in our catchment.

For more information refer to the Peppies for Possums Project Page.