Gumnut possum bridge constructed over busy Dawesville road

The first possum bridge in the Peel region at Dawesville.
The first possum bridge in the Peel region at Dawesville.

RINGTAIL possums at Dawesville now have safe transit between the bush and their feeding grounds after the launch of the Gumnut possum bridge across a busy road.

The road runs through a burgeoning housing development and is likely to become even busier.

The bridge was the brainchild of local conservationist Alison Dixon and funded by the National Landcare Funding Program, Peel-Harvey Catchment Council and the City of Mandurah and co-ordinated by Bouvard Coast Care Group.

Strung between strong tug boat ropes and a first for the Peel region, it was officially launched by Mandurah deputy Mayor Caroline Knight.

Peel-Harvey Catchment Centre chief executive Jane O’Malley, Bouvard Coastcare Group chairman Mel Horton and deputy Mayor Caroline Knight at the launch.

Ms Knight said the bridge would raise awareness of an endangered species and was testament to what could be achieved by volunteers.

Ms Dixon, who is a huge fan of ringtails, said it was “awesome” for Mandurah to have its own population of the species.

Once found throughout south western Australia, ringtails are currently on the critically endangered list and could be extinct within 20 years if nothing is done to save them.

Clearing and construction are the main issues leading to fragmentation of the possums’ natural habitat.

The Western ringtail is a small to medium-size arboreal marsupial that lives for about four years and forages, nests and socialises in the forest canopy.

But as urban development expands, their habitat is further broken requiring them to go to ground more often in order to move between remaining habitat patches and increasing the risk of being hit by cars or killed by cats, foxes or dogs.

A main habitat is peppermint trees and more have been planted in the area to improve connectivity and habitat.

Bouvard Coast Care Group chairman Mel Horton said the success of the new bridge would need to be established before the installation of more could be considered.

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