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The future of the threatened western ringtail possum looks brighter following a proactive approach to install possum guards on Western Power’s overhead network in the south-west region of Western Australia.

Western ringtail possums are known to use the overhead power network to move from one habitat to another. This sometimes leads to contact with live lines and unfortunately possum death, as well as power outages.

To minimise these risks, Western Power is working with the City of Busselton and the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) on a joint initiative to safeguard possums and the network by installing fauna protection devices in areas of known possum habitat.

Western Power Environment Officer, Michelle Davies, said possum guards were not only cost-effective and easy to install but extremely effective in minimising possum interactions with the network, benefitting the possum population, residents and Western Power.

“In the past, we have reactively installed possum guards to poles once an outage had been identified, however, now through working with DBCA and the local government we can identify high-density habitats that are significant for the species and install guards preemptively,” Ms Davies said.

“Through working with local government, we are also ensuring vegetation distances are maintained which is also critical in reducing possum access to powerlines from overhanging vegetation.

“This initiative aligns with Western Power’s commitment to protecting the natural environment, deliver sustainable outcomes and conserve WA’s unique biodiversity through appropriate planning and design of the grid.

“Having a sustainable approach to wildlife protection and working with government agencies and local government in achieving this is integral not only for conservation but ensuring a reliable power supply for our customers in regional communities.”

The western ringtail possum is a small to medium-sized tree-dwelling marsupial which is only found within the south-west of Western Australia. It has recently been elevated to critically endangered under the Federal Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 and the state’s Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016.

Charlotte Pordage is Editor of Utility magazine, a position she has held since November 2018. She joined the team as an Associate Editor in October 2017, after sharpening her writing and editing skills across a range of print and digital publications. Charlotte graduated from Royal Holloway, University of London, in 2011 with joint honours in English and Latin. When she's not putting together Australia's only dedicated utility magazine, she can usually be found riding her horse or curled up with a good book.

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