Utility responds to possum concerns

Taelor PeluseyBusselton Dunsborough Times
Peppermint trees hang over the barbed wire.
Camera IconPeppermint trees hang over the barbed wire. Credit: Busselton-Dunsborough Times

Busselton Water will remove barbed wire fencing along the perimeter of its building following community concerns about the wire injuring or killing critically endangered western ringtail possums.

Conservationist and founder of the now-defunct Possum Centre, Uta Wicke, is nursing a young female possum back to health after it became trapped in the fencing, which she described as a “death trap”.

“The animal was trapped by its paw, in shock and had hung there unnoticed long enough to cause paralysis of the hind legs and tail,” she said.

“She had an active teat which indicates that her offspring was lost, most likely in the incident.

“Fecundity is low in ringtails and young breeders like her are crucial for the survival of the species.”

The building is also surrounded by peppermint trees, which draw in the endangered marsupial.

On learning of the threat to possums, Busselton Water chief executive Chris Elliot said he shared similar concerns and action would be taken.

“We are keen to ensure this matter is resolved in a manner that protects local possums, while still maintaining the security of our local water services,” he said.

Minor pruning has been undertaken to remove small branches of overhanging trees that were in contact with the fence.

It was done with the aim of maintaining the canopy connection between the trees inside and outside the fenced area.

Mr Elliot confirmed the fencing would also be replaced.

“The nature of the fencing installation requires the market to tender, so once all quotes have been received and assessed, the new fence will be installed,” he said.

“Until this time, staff at the plant are manually checking the perimeter of the site for possum movements.”

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