Using technology to help the Mountain Pygmy-possum

Falls Creek Resort Management (FCRM) and the Mountain Pygmy-Possum Project partners have increased efforts to control feral cats and foxes in Alpine areas to improve outcomes for the threatened Mountain Pygmy-possum.

The Mountain Pygmy-possum Recovery Project has involved the use of motion sensing trail cameras to detect the activity of pest animals. The project is aligned with the management actions in the recently revised Fauna and Flora Guarantee Act Mountain Pygmy-possum Action Statement, that aims to secure a future for the species in the wild.

The installation of pest animal monitoring cameras at key locations across the resort allows the FCRM environment team to keep an eye out for any cats and foxes and learn more about their behaviour.

The monitoring data is regularly analysed noting the number of cats, foxes, and other pest animals, along with the date and time they were seen.

The cameras also capture some of Falls Creek’s highly photogenic native species such as lyrebirds and wombats. This valuable data is also good for detecting seasonal changes in behaviour of both pest and native animals.

Regular checks of data from the monitoring program are used to inform control efforts by providing valuable insights into where particular control methods are best deployed and the most effective timing of activities.

Some feral cats can be individually identified based on their fur pattern marking. This can provide FCRM with a clear indication of whether it is the same individual passing by a known location or if there are numerous cats in an area. Sightings reported online by members of the public have also been incredibly helpful in planning control programs.

The number of healthy Mountain Pygmy-possums observed during annual population monitoring within the Resort is indicative of the efforts in reducing the number of cats and foxes. The success of feral animal control programs is also indicated with native animals, including the threatened broad-toothed rat seen in monitoring camera images.

FCRM regularly shares the findings of this work with other members of the Victorian Mountain Pygmy-possum Recovery Team that oversees all conservation works for the Mountain Pygmy-possum including protection work within the resort.

Important Mountain Pygmy-possum habitat has been revegetated as part of this project with plants that provide additional food for the possums, such as the mountain plum-pine. This revegetation work is important to enhance habitat to give the possums the ability to adapt to the decline in the number of Bogong moths arriving to the mountains each summer.

The Mountain Pygmy-possum Recovery Project is supported by project partners North East CMA, Parks Victoria, Mount Hotham Alpine Resort Management Board, Falls Creek Alpine Resort Management Board, DELWP, Traditional Owners and Zoos Victoria, through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.