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 possums and other wildlife in our urban backyards through natural curiosity and predatory drive. Responsible dog owners are keen to prevent these behaviours, for the safety of local wildlife and their canine companions.
Asher Lindberg from Geo Bay Dog Training ran the training sessions at the inaugural Festival of Busselton’s Dogs Day Out event in Vasse. Dog owners learnt 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.
“Reducing harmful interactions between dogs and possums is possible if the owner is committed to put the effort and time into training their dog to avoid possums,” said Asher.
Dog owners also learnt about physical barriers to prevent dog and possum interactions in the backyard. Attaching a run of timber or branches along the top of a fence, especially along slippery Colorbond, allows possums to move safely through the urban landscape. Attendees had the opportunity to view fence retrofit options on the day at the South West Catchments Council display.
Western ringtail possums are critically endangered and at risk of becoming extinct in the wild. There is a misconception in the community that their numbers are stable because they are frequently seen in our backyards. However, their geographical range has reduced significantly 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 at night at a minimum, training our dogs to avoid possums, planting trees, driving slowly at night and retaining mature trees,” said GeoCatch Project Officer Nicole Lincoln.
GeoCatch hopes to provide further free possum avoidance training sessions for local dog owners during the year. For more information on responsible pet ownership visit swccnrm.org.au and geocatch.asn.au.
This project is supported by South West Catchments Council, through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.