Ringtail sighting spurs surveys

By Donna Carman

THE existence of the endangered ringtail possum has been confirmed in Denmark recently, with night-vision evidence emerging of the skittish marsupial.

More petite and gentle than their brushtail cousins, ringtails lead a mainly solitary existence.

This little ringtail was captured on camera by Denmark resident Geoff Bacon and his family

Primary threats in the region are likely the loss of habitat and predation, the possum being no match for a feral cat. Death by a thousand cuts of patches of forest, clearing the forest floor and reducing the connection of tree canopies all contribute to the demise of the species.

Denmark resident Geoff Bacon moved to the area with his family for a tree change more than a decade ago. He describes his family having accidentally purchased a larger block than planned, a story not uncommon around the Denmark hinterland. Having found themselves as custodians of some natural bushland in good condition, their interest and understanding has increased over time.

Geoff Bacon and Phil Runham inspect Ringtail Possum scats on crucial fallen log habitat used as a runway between trees.

He was understandably ecstatic at the recent discovery of a ringtail possum among an array of other creatures when checking night-time photo recordings.

Nearby sightings have now also been recorded, with the strong likelihood being that each is a different animal due to the distance apart. There are plans to put this to the test with some further invaluable citizen science.
Field zoologist Phil Runham shared his knowledge and experience by looking for scats in likely locations and pointing out potential habitat to prioritise for further surveys.

Scats, or droppings, are a way to identify a species, and are especially useful in Australia with more elusive night fauna.

“This outcome demonstrates the value in community science,” he said.
“Passion is what it’s all about, and keeping an open mind.”

Categories: Denmark, ENVIRONMENT, Featured news

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