GeoCatch has released the 2023 Western Ringtail Possum Tally results. Over four weeks in April, 20 Citizen scientists reported 341 possum sightings in their gardens and backyards across Busselton and Dunsborough, of which 149 were identified as different individuals. The annual tally aims to improve knowledge and awareness of critically endangered western ringtail possums living in urban areas.
The results have now been analysed, shared across the wider community, and recorded on the WA Threatened Species Database. The information gathered tracks population trends, future planning decisions, and conservation projects.
All participants in the tally were in the draw to win a possum box, hand-made by the Busselton Men’s Shed. The winner of the possum box this year is Marie from Busselton. She surveyed for eight nights in her backyard, seeing at least one possum every night, including one baby. Marie recorded 17 western ringtail possum sightings during the survey period.
The survey efforts of our community help to monitor ringtail numbers over time and show how valuable backyard habitats are to their survival.
This years ringtail tally revealed some sobering stastics. From 2016 to 2023, there were 450 reported deaths, of which 64% were from road kills. Domestic dogs and cats were also a big contributor to ringtail deaths. Nicole Lincoln, from GeoCatch, explained there are a few simple things that pet owners can do to help the critically endangered species.
“Catios are a great way to let your cat enjoy the outdoors whilst keeping wildlife safe. If you have dogs, ensure that they are inside at night. You can also install possum bridges in your yard to allow possums to move from tree to tree, and there are some low-cost fence extensions available if your dog is jumping up on the fence to access a possum highway,” said Nicole.
Since its inception, the tally has expanded beyond the original Geographe Bay Catchment area. Nature Conservation Margaret River, Leschenault Catchment Council, and Wirambi Landcare now run the project with their local communities. South West NRM assists with coordination, making it a truly regional event.
This project is delivered by GeoCatch through funding from the Australian Government, in partnership with the South West NRM. The project is also supported by the Western Ringtail Action Group (WRAG) and City of Busselton.