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Critically endangered western ringtail possum found trapped and dehydrated in a Main Roads swimming pool

Craig DuncanHarvey-Waroona Reporter
The western ringtail possum is critically endangered
Camera IconThe western ringtail possum is critically endangered Credit: Craig Duncan

A Gelorup resident said she was forced to take matters into her own hands to save a critically endangered possum trapped in an empty swimming pool on Main Roads property.

Main Roads took ownership of a house bordering the construction of the Bunbury Outer Ring Road in mid 2023, and has been vacant since.

Gelorup resident Steph Crowe said she was checking the property for squatters, when she saw a small grey bundle in the bottom of the empty swimming pool.

“It was a trapped western ringtial possum all curled up,” she said.

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“I ran home, got a towel and grabbed her, she was really thin and dehydrated.”

According to Fostering and Wildlife Needing Assistance president Suzanne Strapp this has been a common occurrence in the past months, as the FAWNA team has been inundated with possums suffering from burns and severe dehydration.

“The phone has just run hot,” she said.

“We’ve had 35 animals come into care with burnt paws and dehydration since November, which exceeds last year, and we still have two really hot months to go.”

Ms Strapp said habitat loss and urbanisation was driving possums into dangerous, overcrowded areas.

“It’s terrible, these animals have not only been pushed out of their habitat, but there is such little habitat left for western ringtail possums that there’s often too many in one place,” she said.

Many animals suffered burns from hot metal roofs, were attacked by predators, dogs or cats, or were extremely dehydrated, Ms Strapp said.

“Because it’s so hot, and so sustained, we’re getting possums that are burnt and severely dehydrated, and the likelihood of survival is much less for them, because they go into kidney failure.”

Words such as the ring road project were adding extra stress to already at-risk animals, Ms Strapp said.

A Main Roads spokesperson said the project had plans in place for wildlife within the construction site. Artificial watering stations were installed and maintained for six weeks prior to and during clearing of habitat.

Ms Strapp said their approach has been ill-advised.

“We like to think we’re possum experts,” she said.

“But nobody asked us how you might best look after possums after you knock down their habitat, and now we’re seeing animals in the area searching for water and coming into our care.”

Ms Crowe’s said the possum she rescued was treated and released safely on to her property.

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