Saturday, June 28, 2008

I never have my camera when I need it!

There is a detour on a section of local road while it is being repaved. We were driving along the gravel detour when we passed an opossum carcass in the middle of the road. Dead animals along the road are not unusual here. What was usual was seeing the carcass move. Backup up and saw a baby on top of the carcass.

Yes, a baby opossum with more more babies hanging out the mother's pouch, their heads still attached inside, little pink tails swirled into tight spirals, mouths suckling their dead mama. What to do? I have seven cats who would love opossum lunch. Several cars slowed and cautiously move around us, one driver said throw the critters in the ditch. Sorry, we stopped, can't to anything but help now.

While my partner called on his cell phone to find a shelter, I got a box and put a towel in it. Items easily found in my messy trunk. I used gloves found in the same source to remove the babies, counting babies as I put them in the box. One on top, one moving around outside the pouch, seven suckling. Nine went into the box, hissing and snapping. The pouch still moved. Three more 6" long opossum babies curled up inside her. Once the babies were removed, I placed the dead animal on the side of the road. We headed for the DNR. They don't do anything, but gave us the name of a woman who rescued wild animals.

We just caught Ann, as she comes home daily from a week's camping trip to feed some raccoon babies. She said yes, she'd take the baby opossums. When she saw them, she said they were bigger than she expected and they should have no trouble survivng. They could probably already eat solid food like tinned dog or cat food. Placing the babies in an old aquarium, she put the aquarium on the front seat of her truck and told us she'd take them with her back to her camp site to watch them. Once they are ready to survive on their own, they'd be released at a safe spot.

This year, or perhaps next, will be Ann's last year rescuing animals. The DNR demands that she take a class out of state and pay for it and the book she needs. She is already paying for her cages and food to feed the animals. This is outrageous. We have thousands of wild animals of every ilk killed on our highways every year, something like 68,000 deer in our state alone, but no one is interested in saving the few who escape? The DNR can't pay for the further training for the few people who have already been doing this type of thing? They must take classes and pay for everything themselves?

I guess it won't be too long before we are hauling the living carcasses to the side of the road to die.

My only regret was not having my camera with me to take a photo of the twelve babies. I'll probably never have another opportunity to see opossums this close.