Pets away, possums play

Keep your pets inside at night….so possums feel safe to forage, feed and thrive

Article by Nicole Lincoln, GeoCatch

Possums have graced pavements across the City of Busselton this year in the form of spray chalk cartoons carrying the ‘Pets away, Possums play’ message.

The cartoons have been spotted on bike paths, walk paths, vet and school entrances and even dog exercise areas.

Launched in March, ‘Pets Away, Possums Play’ is a new campaign designed to remind pet owners that keeping pets (especially cats and dogs) contained at night reduces injury and death to the critically endangered Western Ringtail Possum, and has the ripple effect of protecting other urban native wildlife.

At a minimum, cats and dogs should be contained at night (between dusk to dawn). This is the time possums and wildlife are active and most at risk of injury and death caused by hunting and curious pets. Pets are also most at risk during this time from other roaming pets that have the potential to injure and cause death to your pets by transmission of disease, animal fights, exposure to poisons and car incidents.

Responding to the injuries and deaths caused by pets, the campaign message ‘Pets away, Possums play’ also aligns with national and state-wide campaigns and attitudes delivered and supported by City of Busselton, Parks and Wildlife, RSPCA, Cat Protection Society: The Good Neighbour Project, SAFE, Victoria Zoo: Safe Cat Safe Wildlife, National Cat Tracker Project and other local government responsible pet ownership campaigns, aimed to reduce predation of wildlife by cats and dogs at night.

Local evidence suggests that the greatest known causes of death to possums and wildlife in the Geographe catchment are cats, dogs, motor vehicles, and habitat loss.  It is also accepted science that cats prey on more than 186 kinds of native Australian birds, 64 mammals, 87 reptiles and 10 species of amphibian and numerous invertebrates1.

GeoCatch has spent a large part of 2018-2019 developing this campaign using community-based social marketing methodology to encourage behavioural change. Key stakeholders have participated in community stakeholder workshops, and the message ‘Pets away, Possums play’ is an outcome of this engagement and other key partnerships in the catchment.

‘Pets away, Possums play’, forms part of GeoCatch’s iconic Peppies for Possum project that aims to increase community awareness of the critically endangered Western Ringtail Possum. GeoCatch will deliver a range of community events over the next five years to help consolidate and educate the community on best practices to help foster responsible pet ownership throughout the Geographe Catchment.

This campaign is delivered by GeoCatch with support from the South West Catchments Council through the Australia Governments National Landcare Program, and the State NRM Program, in the Geographe Catchment.

For further information, visit geocatch.asn.au

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