A BARRIER fence to protect wildlife from feral animals could leave critically endangered Western Ringtail Possums outside the fence with nowhere to escape a bushfire, according to Larry Geno.
Mr Geno, a retired academic whose property borders the fence, said the “floppy top” just installed on the vermin-proof fence to stop cats climbing over it would also be a barrier to larger possums.
The fence runs across the Nullaki Peninsula, and Mr Geno said the possums could leave the fenced off area to come onto his property to forage but would not be able to return.
“The one way traffic is the issue plus the fire risk,” he said.
“If they get bumped up against that fence they are fried.”
There is always a risk
Wilson Inlet Catchment Committee Executive Officer Shaun Ossinger agreed this could occur.
“Anything that you do is not without risk – it is always about the net benefit,” he said.
“The whole purpose of the floppy is that animals can get out if there is a fire – the cat can get over the fence but they can’t get back inside.
“There is enough fencing to make it largely feral proof and if we can get a downward trend on ferals inside the fence that is a great outcome for the wildlife.”
Managing Nullaki ferals
Mr Ossinger said the group was laying 1080 baits twice a year for foxes in the 2400ha area inside the fence and had destroyed five feral cats in recent years.
“We have 18 cameras in a grid network inside the fence to monitor the feral abundance and there is a downward trend in foxes,” he said.
“We want it be feral free by 2025.”
However Mr Geno claimed the “floppy top” fence barrier violated the City of Albany’s intentions for the Nullaki Peninsula.
“The Local Planning Scheme 1 states the Nullaki Conservation zoning is ‘to protect, enhance and rehabilitate the flora, fauna, and landscape qualities of the Nullaki Peninsula’,” he said.
“All structures are supposed to be approved by Council.”
Approval not needed
City of Albany acting Development and Environment Director Jan Van Der Mescht said the fence itself had been present in the Nullaki Peninsula for approximately 20 years.
“The structure was accepted as a fence by the City of Albany Council prior to its original installation,” he said.
“As such, it did not require further approval for the recent restorative works.
“The fence was originally installed as a barrier to incursion by feral predators.”
The Wilson Inlet Catchment Nullaki sub-committee funded the additional “floppy-top” to the fence with a private cost share arrangement between several conservation zone landholders.
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