The Newnan Times-Herald

Opinion

Another reason for outdoor burn bans


  • By The Newnan Times-Herald
  • |
  • May. 14, 2017 - 6:21 AM

The current home came with new neighbors and a new varmint.

The neighbors were fine. We got along and still do. The varmint was a different deal.

I’d had countless wildlife encounters in other homes, but a dose of discouragement—or gun powder—kept most at bay.

This bad boy was different

It was a possum. It was the first one I’d ever gotten close enough to evaluate. We got to know each other a little too well. Mostly because he came by almost every evening to scavenge food out of the cats’ dishes on the back deck.

He was bold about it. When he showed up, I could tap on the glass door to the deck, and he’d just look and blink and keep eating. If I stepped onto the deck, he looked and blinked twice and froze. If I got within five feet of him, he hissed and bared his teeth, but trotted off.

He came several nights a week. He made life miserable for the cats, and they made life miserable for me.

I wasn’t armed at the time and called a friend for possum-removal tips. He said what I needed to do was trap it and turn it loose in the next county so it couldn't find its way back.

I told my friend I didn’t have a possum trap. He said, “I do. I’ll be there in 30 minutes.”

He was. He whipped out a Havahart trap and set it on the trail the possum had carved out under some bushes.

Three days later, the possum was in the trap. He wasn’t happy.

When I got close, he’d go all bug-eyed and snarl and snap and act like he was possessed. I didn’t want to transport him in that condition, so I let him simmer.

A couple of days later, he had slowed down some. In fact, he looked dead. I poked him with a stick, and he wasn't.

By then, I had a different problem. I didn’t want the possum nagging me and the cats, but I'd gotten so used to it I didn’t want to hurt it, either.

I took the trap—complete with possum—to a brushy area at the edge of the yard and opened the trap door so it could leave.

It lay there as if dead. Even a poke with a stick didn't make it stir. The next day it still seemed dead, but I caught him breathing lightly. On the third day, the possum rose from the cage and fled.

I never saw him again, but I’m glad I didn’t have the heart to hurt him.

American humorist Will Rogers once said, “I never met a man I didn't like.” Will Rogers never said that about a possum.

Possums don’t have an upside. They are smelly and nasty and make evil faces and gobble the vegetables right out of your garden.

Mine was a mess, but I’m glad he got away. I’m even more glad I didn’t use another method of possum removal that just hit the news.

Authorities said a Lancaster, Pa., man had a possum problem, too. He didn’t try to trap it. He had heard possums didn't like smoke, so the man lit a pile of brush in his front yard, hoping the smoke would run off the possum.

Sure enough, the fire started, and the possum fled. But not because it hated smoke. It ran to escape the ensuing fire, which gutted the possum burner’s house.

The smoked Pennsylvania possum hasn’t been back. I hope it’s happy. People say possums are stupid. Based on this story, some homeowners aren’t so bright, either.  

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