Critically endangered western ringtail possums will be able to travel safely across Cape Naturaliste Drive in Dunsborough, thanks to a new ropebridge being installed today by South West Catchments Council (SWCC).
While western ringtail possums may seem abundant in the Dunsborough area because we spot them in our backyards and local parks, they’re actually at risk of extinction as humans have built settlements throughout their limited habitat range. The Ludlow-Busselton area is the last remaining stronghold of the species, which has been reducing in size since the early 1990s. It is estimated that there are now only 8,000 possums left in the wild.
Western ringtail possums spend most of their time feeding and nesting in trees, which also makes them vulnerable to predators like cats and foxes when forced to climb to the ground. The ropebridge linking Marri Reserve to bushland on the other side of the road will provide an important crossing point, preventing predation, car strikes and electrocution by powerlines. It will also link together diverse genetic groups of western ringtail possum, which is vital to prevent inbreeding in the limited remaining population.
SWCC has conducted spotlighting surveys, and worked with the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions and City of Busselton to find the best location for the bridge. Three possum bridges installed elsewhere in the City of Busselton have been successfully used by possums within days of installation, and research has shown that they provide vital safe passage. Expert advice on the design of the bridge was provided by SWCC Threatened Species Program Manager, Dr Brian Chambers.
This project is delivered by South West Catchments Council, through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.