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Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016

Playin' possum

Posted Monday, October 5, 2009, at 2:51 AM

In the continuing saga of the new homeowners, the last week has been a different set of challenges. I expected mechanical problems. I expected yard work. I expected leaks.

I didn't expect wildlife troubles.

Nicole and I don't exactly live in the country. We also don't have pets. There's a reason for this: we aren't really animal people.

It started last Sunday with a dying possum we'll call Barry.

So we pull up in front of our house and there's Barry in the middle of the road seemingly frozen in our headlights. At first, I figured it was part of the act, you know, "playing possum."

But it quickly became evident that Barry had some serious problems. Apparently, an earlier motorist had hit him, but failed to finish the job. Now he was just there in the road, miserable and unable to do anything about it.

If I'd had any idea he was about the toughest possum in the state, I might have finished him with the car right then.

Instead, Cole and I pulled into the driveway, keeping an eye on Barry the whole time, and unloaded the car. Over the next several hours, I would check out the window every little bit. There he would be, in the general vicinity of the mailbox, still kicking.

At least he was in the road. When he finally died, he'd be the city's problem, not mine.

But I'm not that lucky, am I?

Of course not. When Cole was on her way to work, she called me to say Barry was dead in the front yard next to the tree.

Great. What exactly do you do with a dead possum?

However, an examination, from a distance, revealed that Barry wasn't dead at all. He'd still move his head every little bit and look at me.

Great. What exactly do you do with a not-so-dead possum?

First I called animal control, who gave me the answer, "We can't really do anything about that."

My question is, what exactly do you do, if not control an animal in my yard? It could be rabid and it is certainly ill-tempered.

Your tax dollars at work, people.

Then I called the city's street department. Thankfully, I was told they would pick it up once it was dead. However, a visit from a couple of nice city workers revealed Barry was indeed still alive.

So now I had a plan for getting rid of a dead possum. I just needed it to actually be dead.

Next I called to get a conservation officer. Same story as animal control: "Conservation officers don't usually handle that kind of thing." But that's not the interesting part. This exchange took place:

Me: I have a way of getting rid of the possum once it's dead; I just need it do be dead.

DNR dispatcher: Do you have baseball bat?

Me: (blink...blink...blink) Yeah ... but this possum can still move.

Dispatcher: Enough that it can get at you?

Me: I don't know. I DON'T WANT TO FIND OUT!

But at this point, many thoughts had run through my mind. I didn't have the nerve to go after it with a bat or a shovel. (I think this was a good idea on my part.) I didn't have a gun to shoot it, and I wouldn't have anyway. (I know this was a good idea on my part. I do live in the middle of town.)

So I was really left with no option except to wait. Poor Barry lay there, moving around a little, but mostly just laying there.

When I went to bed on Monday night, I think he was still alive.

When I got up Tuesday, he was gone without a trace. I can only assume the guys from the city had returned and took care of him.

So my thanks go out to the city of Greencastle and its devoted employees. Those of us without a convenient way to dispose of large, dead rodents are forever indebted.

Showing comments in chronological order
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How cruel is that? That poor animal, even though they are like large rats, still didn't deserve to die that way. You should have called the police. They could have gotten permission from their chief to put it out of it's misery. What an awful story. Shame on all involved.

-- Posted by magoo55 on Wed, Oct 7, 2009, at 10:10 AM

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Jared Jernagan
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Jared Jernagan is a 2003 graduate of Wabash College and has been in journalism since 2005.
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