On a recent Wednesday evening, a small group led by members of Torbay Catchment Group (TCG) explored some tracks through the peppermint and yate woodlands near the Wilson Inlet, spotlighting for possums. TCG have obtained funding to monitor and protect populations of critically endangered Western Ringtail Possums, Pseudocheirus occidentalis (WRP) in the Torbay Catchment, and along the coastal macro-corridor between the eastern Wilson Inlet Catchment and Torndirrup National Park.
We hadn’t gotten too far when we spotted some eyeshine, several metres away in a peppi tree obscured by dense bush. Our torches revealed it to be a brushtail possum, Trichosurus vulpecula , common throughout the southwest.
Reaching the Bibbulmun Track, we turned west and soon discovered this fat fellow up in a peppermint tree. The large ears, grey coat, and bushy tail again indicated brushtail, not WRP.
Finally, nearing the end of our journey, 3 (!) more brushtail possums were found munching away on some leaves in a tall yate tree that hung right over Nullaki Drive.
Whilst it was disappointing not to find Western Ringtail possums this time, the abundance of brushtails over a 2 hour walk demonstrates that it is possible for them to survive in the presence of foxes and feral cats. The discovery of WRP fairly close to the Nullaki, in Lake Saide Reserve, gives us hope that if we don’t discover them inside the fence, our habitat should be suitable and able to support translocated WRP as we continue to get the feral predators under better control.