Pets blamed for deaths of possums

Sarah IsonBusselton Dunsborough Times

Wildlife carers are becoming increasingly frustrated as western ringtail possums continue to be killed by domestic cats and dogs a year on from being reclassified as critically endangered.

Dunsborough and Busselton Wildlife Care Inc. owner Sascha Boundy found a dying baby possum at a property in Dunsborough last weekend with puncture wounds, broken legs and tail.

“This is what happens when you let your cats out at night,” she said. “But you can’t blame cats and dogs, they are just doing what comes naturally ... it’s irresponsible owners that caused this baby’s death.”

Ms Boundy said wildlife carers rescued many animals from cat and dog attacks, most of which proved fatal.

FAWNA vice-president Suzanna Strapp said a third of animals coming into care did so because of attacks, most often by dogs.

“Dogs are the biggest killers — we get called to dog attacks daily,” she said. “There are all these new suburbs in areas that used to be possum habitat and there’s a dog on almost every property, so the possums just don’t stand a chance.”

Ms Strapp said she received many calls from owners of dogs that had attacked a possum and it was “very frustrating” not to see more responsible pet ownership.

“All it would take is putting a dog on a lead at night so they can’t go chasing the possums that run along the fences,” she said.

But South West Catchments Council communication engagement program manager Nerilee Boshammer was not convinced leads were enough and said all pets needed to be kept inside at night when possums were active.

GeoCatch is planning a pilot project on responsible pet ownership in the Geographe region to reduce predation of possums by domestic pets.

The public is invited to a responsible pet ownership workshop on Thursday, March 15, from 10am. Contact 9781 0111.

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