The Mid West “Possum Watch” is officially underway, and all members of the community are being called on to help this fluffy little friend.
According to scientists, the number of Common brushtail possum (Trichosurus vulpecula) is on the decline in our region, and there is something the community can do.
Northern Agricultural Catchments Council (NACC) and Central Regional TAFE, together with Fauna for the Future have recently launched a study to raise public awareness and understanding of the Common brushtail possum around the Chapman, Greenough and Bowes rivers.
Dr Indre Asmussen from Central Regional TAFE, who will be leading the study, said: “Common brushtail possums have declined in numbers in our region and across Australia as a result of predation by foxes and cats, loss of habitat and ancient hollow bearing trees, and displacement from hollows by feral bees.”
“Luckily however, they still persist in the Geraldton Region,” she said.
As part of the study, night surveys will be conducted to find out whether possums are present in the study area, and when and where they are active.
And the local community are getting involved.
Nesting boxes, constructed by students from Leaning Tree Primary School, will be installed to provide important habitat, and motion sensor cameras will be mounted nearby to record any activity.
NACC Biodiversity Coordinator Jessica Stingemore said: “Many Australian children grew up loving Mem Fox’s Possum Magic, and in this region we are privileged to still be able to live alongside these nocturnal native mammals.”
“Sadly however, Australia has the highest mammal extinction record in the world, but projects like Possum Watch will help halt further decline.”
To report a sighting (current or historical) or for more information, members of the community are asked to please contact Indre Asmussen at: Indre.Asmussen@crtafe.wa.edu.au or by phone on 0448 557 681.
This project is supported by Central Regional TAFE and NACC through funding from the National Landcare Programme.
Did you know?
The Common brushtail possum is 35 – 55 cm in body length and weighs 1.2 – 4.5 kg. They have large pointed ears, grey fur, and a bushy tail with a black or white tip. They are largely nocturnal and spend the majority of the daytime asleep in hollows or similar refuges, emerging after sunset to feed.