Media Releases 2011
Community input sought on proposal for Curtain Square’s trees and possums
20 July 2011
The fertility of possums in North Carlton’s Curtain Square is set to be restricted under a two-year trial, aimed at reducing the park’s possum population and reviving its unhealthy trees.
Council will seek community comment on the proposed trial, which would also see a local law introduced to ban the feeding of possums and the introduction of extra measures like mulching and banding to assist the trees.
Yarra Mayor Alison Clarke said the trial was aimed at fixing a long-standing problem affecting the health of Curtain Square’s trees.
“Council has to act as several of Curtain Square’s historic trees are in poor health, partly because of the number of possums feeding off them,” Cr Clarke said.
“We estimate that more than 60 possums live in the park, which is way above the average of other inner-city parks in Melbourne,” she said.
“That above average population has been sustained partly due to public feeding.
“We’ve got to try to control possum numbers in a humane way, and do more to promote tree health, or else we could lose the trees.”
Cr Clarke said the trial was expected to cost about $160,000 over the two years, and had been recommended by a community advisory committee (involving ecologists, residents and wildlife activists) set up by Council last year to find solutions to the problem.
The fertility control program would be conducted by qualified wildlife vets, and would most likely involve the use of hormonal implants to prevent possums reproducing.
She said the proposed actions were estimated to cost about $60,000 more over two years than it would cost to undertake culling of the possums.
However, concerns had been raised by some committee members that culling would be an inhumane way to fix the problem.
“We’re proposing to follow the committee’s advice and then assess the effectiveness of the measures in two years time,” Cr Clarke said.
The two-year trial would feature:
- a Council-controlled possum feeding program to wean possums off public feeding
- the creation and enforcement of a local law to ban unauthorised feeding of possums
- additional banding of vulnerable trees to prevent possums from reaching the trees’ upper levels
- improved irrigation of trees and management of mulching, soil care, and pruning
- bi-annual surveys of the possum population and mature tree health
- new plantings to increase the variety and quantity of trees and vegetation in Curtain Square
- the possible removal of possum nesting box numbers to encourage diverse native wildlife.
Council will seek public comment on the proposed trial next month, with a report on the outcomes of the community consultation expected to be considered by Council in September.
Here is more information about what is proposed, and the background to this issue.
Senior Communications Officer
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