Local dog owners were praised for training their pooches to live in harmony with western ringtail possums at GeoCatch’s Possum Avoidance Training last weekend.
Dogs can cause injury and death to critically endangered possums and other wildlife in urban backyards through natural curiosity and predatory drive. As part of the Festival of Busselton Vasse Vets Dogs’ Day Out, responsible dog owners learned distraction and ‘leave it’ techniques to help avoid interactions with possums. The techniques can also be applied to other native wildlife found in our urban backyards.
Asher Lindberg from, Geo Bay Dog Training, emphasised the importance of training dogs that may come into contact with native wildlife.
“Reducing harmful interactions between dogs and possums is possible if the owner is committed to putting the effort and time into training their dog to avoid possums,” said Asher.
Dog owners also learned about physical barriers to prevent dog and possum interactions in the backyard. Attaching a length of timber or branches along the top of a slippery fence allows possums to move safely through the urban landscape. Possum bridges are also helpful in allowing possums to move safely around the backyard without needing to come to the ground. This can prevent interactions with inquisitive pets.
GeoCatch Project Officer Nicole Lincoln was in attendance to help spread the message about possum protection. “Western ringtail possums are critically endangered and at risk of becoming extinct in the wild. Their geographical range has reduced significantly with habitat clearing and they continue to be under threat from habitat clearing, road accidents, and predation from domestic pets and foxes.”
“The good news is that everyone can be part of the solution by keeping pets contained, training our dogs to avoid possums, and providing other resources for our pets like catios to make sure cats and wildlife do not come into contact with each other,” said Nicole.
Visit geocatch.asn.au/possum-avoidance-for-dogs for tips on how to help your dog co-exist with possums in your backyard.
This project is supported by GeoCatch and the Festival of Busselton.
Photo: Eva Cronin with Charlie, GeoCatch board member and City of Busselton Mayor Phill Cronin with Scout.