Page 5

NEWS DESK

Fox seen as answer to possum problem By Barry Morris* THEY might have cute little faces and tails and protected by the Victorian Wildlife Act, but the abundance of ringtail possums in Mt Eliza and Mt Martha are being blamed for a massive loss of gum trees. Ecologist Jeff Yugovic says the tree loss is linked to dense understoreys in which possums can hide from their major remaining predator, the fox. IHe says the role of the introduced fox has replaced locally extinct native predators which would once have kept the possum population under control. Dr Yugovic’s solution to the possum problem is to remove the their safe hideaways, forcing them to the ground so they can be caught by foxes. He said dense understoreys are unnatural and also a major fire hazard to the community. Speaking at this month’s Balcombe Estuary Reserves Group’s (BERG’s) annual general meeting Dr Yugovic said all indigenous eucalypts are susceptible, but swamp gums and narrow-leaf peppermints are being killed first. He said affected trees eventually die unless protected and the prognosis for the eucalypts remaining in the landscape was extremely poor. Mt Eliza, with up to 16 ringtail possums a hectare, has the highest known density of the marsupial in natural eucalypt vegetation in Australia. While researchers found few brushtail possums in bushland reserves, Dr Yugovic said brushtails browse significantly on trees in gardens where

Over-population: Ecologist Jeff Yugovic says making it easier for foxes to kill possums will save eucalypts from being decimated by the nocturnal grazing marsupials. Picture: Richard Kirsner

they are near buildings with shelter. “Brushtails eat adult leaves which thins the foliage throughout trees, while ringtails are more damaging by being smaller and able to reach their preferred shoots and young leaves at the end of branches,” Dr Yugovic said. Every few years, ringtail numbers plummet during intense heatwaves,

but they are able to breed up so that numbers rapidly recover within a year. Brushtails are not so affected. Dr Yugovic said all six native predators that controlled the ringtail in the past are now extinct in Mt Eliza. There were two mammals, two birds and two reptiles: Powerful owls took possums from

tree canopies. Grey goshawks and spot-tailed quolls killed ringtails lower in the trees. Lace monitors were deadly venomous tree predators. Dingoes attacked possums on the ground. Semi-arboreal tiger snakes attacked

WE’VE GOT YOUR PRINTING NEEDS SORTED AT CARTRIDGE WORLD ROSEBUD

possum in their nests and finished them off on the ground. Dr Yugovic said with thousands of trees affected, only a limited number of large trees in prominent positions could be saved by possum bands. “Mornington Peninsula Shire has installed possum bands on selected trees on roadsides and in parks and reserves,” he said. “This has been highly successful except for trees for which it was too late.” Dr Yugovic said conservationist Tim Flannery has suggested reintroducing the Tasmanian devil to mainland Australia where it could help control foxes, cats and possums. “There are moves to reintroduce devils to Wilsons Promontory but no program has been formalised,” he said. “Is it not better that excess herbivores die quickly in the jaws of a predator rather than slowly through starvation which would damage the ecosystem and the species it contains?” Dr Yugovic said the only way to save the remaining bushland is to reduce the understorey by physical thinning or fuel reduction burns. This removes possum shelter and forces possums to the ground to reach their food trees where they are exposed to foxes. Practical tips on protecting individual trees were given by Dr Yugovic. When damaged trees receive possum bands and are isolated from any connecting vegetation they generally recover very well. * The author is a member of BERG.

BUSINESS SOLUTIONS

^ Feb 2016! ice membership until 29 pr lf ha joy en d an w no Join

COMPARE AND SAVE

At Curves you can enjoy:

At Cartridge World, we supply more than just cartridges. Whether you’re after a printer, photocopier, ink cartridge, toner cartridge or paper, we’ve got all you printing needs right here in store.

A variety of 30 minute total body workouts With massive range of products, including our own Cartridge World Premium Brand product, there’s no need to go anywhere else.

Strength-based circuit programmes Equipment designed for women Fitness program for women of all ages & abilities A Curves coach at every circuit to teach & motivate Personalised workouts with Curves Smart* Personalised weight loss programme Welcoming & supportive environment

CURVES MORNINGTON MIP - 33/1140 Nepean Hwy

Talk to us today and see how we can help you save every time.

We’ve helped thousands of women get fit, lose weight and simply feel great about themselves. We’d love to help you too.

Drop into your local store or call 5986 4663 Shop 7, 1401 Point Nepean Rd, Rosebud Mon - Fri 9am - 5pm, Sat 9am - 1pm

5975 5526 curves.com.au/club/mornington-926

^Offer valid between 1/11/15 and 31/1/16 at participating clubs only. Available to new members who sign up to a minimum 12-months Curves Fitness or Curves Complete package. Not valid in conjunction with any other offer. Monthly membership fee payable via direct debit and billed monthly, plus $149 joining fee to be paid at time of signing up. 50% off applies to monthly membership fee for Nov and Dec 2015 and Jan and Feb 2016 only. Monthly membership fee without discount is $79/month (Fitness package) or $99/month (Curves Complete package). Total minimum cost will be from $939 (for Curves Fitness) or from $1,039 (for Curves Complete), based on a person joining on 01/11/15. Total cost will vary depending on date of joining. Cancellation fees apply. Ask in Club for full Terms and Conditions or visit our website. © Curves. All rights reserved. Weight loss programs take time and personal commitment to be effective and require professional advice on diet, exercise and lifestyle changes. Individual results may vary. *Curves Smart available at participating clubs.

FREE DELIVERY CONDITIONS APPLY

VALUE.ADVICE.RANGE.CARTRIDGEWORLD.COM.AU/BUSINESS 361

Mornington News 17 November 2015

PAGE 5

Profile for Mornington Peninsula News Group

17 November 2015  

Mornington News 17 November 2015

17 November 2015  

Mornington News 17 November 2015

Advertisement

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded