The Common Brushtail Possum and the Western Ringtail Possum often use overhead powerlines to travel from one place to another. This contact with live power lines and the tops of poles may result in possum deaths and power interruptions.
To reduce the risk of possums contacting live power lines, Western Power uses a variety of solutions, for example:
- installing possum guards (50 cm long metal plates) to the base of poles which prevent possums from climbing up the pole
- insulating power lines to prevent electrocution
- undergrounding cables
- installing transformers with an increased distance between the transformer tank and the power lines to prevent outages due to wildlife contact
The Western Ringtail Possum is listed as threatened and vulnerable under state and commonwealth environmental legislation. Their populations are declining due to habitat loss from clearing vegetation for agriculture and urban development.
To minimise impacts to Western Ringtail Possums when planning new infrastructure, Western Power:
- selects line routes that, where possible, avoid habitat areas
- conducts detailed surveys to identify areas of significance and potential impacts to these areas
- modifies designs to reduce impact to habitat
- adopts modified clearing and construction methodologies such as selective pruning and restricted vehicle access
- introduces offsets such as habitat protection, re-vegetation and research funding
Western Power has provided funding for a university research project on the use of possum ropes in the Busselton area. A possum rope is an aerial bridge made of rope to allow possums to cross busy roads, similar in height to a power line. By allowing possums to safely cross roads, it is hoped that interbreeding between different possum populations will increase.
Western Ringtail Possum
Photo courtesy: Cherie Kemp (DEC)