Spotlight on western ringtail possums living in urban areas

Headshot of Shannon Smith
Shannon SmithAlbany Advertiser
The western ringtail possum (Pseudocheirus occidentalis).
Camera IconThe western ringtail possum (Pseudocheirus occidentalis). Credit: © Stewart Macdonald, Stewart Macdonald

Torches will be shone in trees in Albany tonight for a western ringtail possum workshop and spotlighting event.

The event aims to shine a light on western ringtail possum populations in urban areas, so that people can do their part to help conserve the threatened species.

South Coast NRM regional ecologist Bronte Van Helden has extensively studied the importance of residential gardens for the creatures. “I spent the last four years during my PhD examining the conservation value of residential gardens for western ringtail possums and other mammals,” she said.

“This research included comparing the species abundance in residential areas to bushland vegetation, examining which garden features promoted the presence of western ringtail possums in residential areas and looking at how they used garden habitat on a day-to-day basis.

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“The results were very interesting and showed that the abundance of western ringtail possums are very similar between bushland and residential gardens, and that some individuals can exclusively live within gardens.

“This tells us that residential gardens are an important habitat for this highly threatened species.”

A presentation will explain how the possums use the gardens and why they need to be conserved in these areas. A spotlighting tour will then take participants to Mt Adelaide so that people can spot them and learn how to do so on their own properties.

Ms Van Helden said she hoped people would realise they can make a difference even living in the city.

“Sometimes we think the only place where we can make a difference for conservation is out in the wilderness but actually we have wildlife that use and do seemingly well in cities,” she said.

Ms Van Helden said western ringtail possums were once widespread throughout south-western Australia but have largely contracted to three strongholds, one of which is in and around Albany. “This event hopes to engage people with urban wildlife and inspire them to make a difference and help conserve biodiversity right in their backyard,” she said.

The workshop and spotlighting will take place at 5pm today at the City of Albany offices North Road.

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