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Keeping Mountain Pygmy-possums safe

9 May 2023

Mt Hotham Resort Management recently completed a five year program of work for the North East Catchment Management Authority that was designed to support our cutest inhabitants, the tiny endangered Mountain Pygmy-possum.

Ongoing protection of the Mountain Pygmy-possum (MPP) requires an integrated management approach. By improving habitat, reducing predation and linking habitat through tunnels, Resort Management is ensuring that a genetically healthy population of Mountain Pygmy-possums persists and adapts into the future.

One of the most exciting pieces of work over the past five years was the installation of the second ‘Tunnel of Love’ at Mount Little Higginbotham. The tunnel, which runs under the Great Alpine Road, uses microchip readers and remote sensing cameras to track the behaviour of the MPPs, especially during breeding season. The tunnel enables the female MPPs to safely visit the males in the boulderfield below the Great Alpine Road, protecting them from traffic collisions and reducing encounters with predators.

Predator and weed control are important parts of protecting the Mountain Pygmy-possum

Along with ongoing monitoring of the Mount Little Higginbotham tunnel, Resort Management undertakes a range of environmental management programs. Monitoring and control of feral predators benefits not only the MPPS, but also other native reptiles and small mammals.

Weed control is another important activity within the resort, improving MPP habitat and enabling native species to re-establish and provide additional food resources for the possums. This is part of a broader landscape project conducted with other project partners including Parks Victoria and Falls Creek and funded by the Federal Government.

Revegetating native food and shelter plants

Over summer 2022-23, Mt Hotham’s Environment team also revegetated key foraging species eaten by the MPP, including Alpine Star bush (Asterolasia trymalioides) and Native Raspberry (Rubus parvifolius), which will provide a food source and also coverage from predators. The success of these native plants is dependent on the control of invasive species, another critical task that is regularly carried out in the resort.

This was in addition to 4370 food species planted in autumn 2022, comprising twenty-six species of alpine grasses, herbs and shrubs.

For more information about Mt Hotham’s environmental programs, visit the Mt Hotham Resort Management website.

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