Thursday, September 17, 2015

Trapper Ron and the Unwanted Possum

To readers who were upset with me trapping squirrels, splitting up their families, and relocating them, let me spell out some details. The little fur balls are not an endangered species nor are they protected by a hunting season. They gnawing destructive rodents damage trees and homes. The final cost to repair the damage to my home was over $500. No matter how cute they look, squirrels are vermin.

But I diverge from this week's tale of my close encounters with wild things. 

I set my live animal trap on the back deck which was about twelve feet off the ground and below the area where the beasts damaged the roof overhang. On average I caught 3 to 5 vermin a week while setting them loose in a number of wooded areas five miles or more from my house.  I always wondered if they would find their way.  Some day I'd drive past a squirrel on the roadside with it's thumb out, hitching a ride back.

About three months into my trapping, my wife called me at work. "You caught something in the trap and it's not a squirrel."

My brain screamed, please, please, don't be a skunk. "What is it?"

She hesitated and replied, "I don't know. It has a pointy snoot, hisses, bares it teeth and has a long skinny tail. The thing fills the entire trap."

Hmmm? A very big rat. No, it was an opossum. What perturbed me was why something like that would climb up twelve feet of stairs, coming up onto our deck. Possums stayed clear of people, unless it had...rabies. 

I told my wife to call the police or animal control and see what they say. She called me back at work. "The police won't come out unless it had bitten someone. Animal control won't come out unless its a cat or dog. Nothing wild."

The vision of a Bengal tiger strolling down the center of our street entered my thought and no one will come out. Not my job, man!

"Let's try this. Call the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission. They'll know what to do."

My wife called me back about a half hour later.  "They didn't care about an animal with rabies.  But they did want to know if you had a license to trap in the state." Of course, not! Good news was she gave them all the necessary information and ten days later, I got a certificate in the mail licensing me to trap squirrels. Soon  after I became affectionately known at work as Trapper Ron.

With no one caring about the unhappy, possibly sick, possum, I drove him out to heavily forested area, popped the cage door open and waved my hands. "Go and tell your friends no one cares about you."

He waddled off, paused and looked back. I knew the look in his eyes.

"You loose, sucker!"

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