Each year more than 200 western ringtail possums come in to the care of wildlife rehabilitators across the species’ range. These animals range from small dependent pouch young through to adult animals and come into care for a variety of reasons including vehicle collisions, dog and cat attacks, exposure to extreme weather events and abandonment of pouch young.
SWCC is working with FAWNA, UWA and DBCA on a 3 year research project aimed at understanding the factors that affect the survival of hand raised pouch young after they are released into the wild. To support this project WA’s first pre-release facility for western ringtail possums, the Possum Finishing School, was established by FAWNA to allow these possums to be held under standardised conditions in the months leading up to their release.
UWA PhD candidate Sara Corsetti is tracking the possums after release to determine movement patterns, survival rates and causes of death to better understand how varying treatment before and at the time of release affects survival. The results of this study will help to improve the survival of hand raised western ringtail possums to ensure that the hundreds of hours of work that go into raising these animals achieves the best outcomes for the conservation of the species.
Results of the first two releases show survival rates improving from 5.6% to 15% following fox control measures. Future releases will aim to further improve survival rates.