Can a person be held hostage by a cute, furry animal?
In New Zealand, anything is possum-able.
That’s how the story goes for one resident of the city Dunedin, who phoned the police on Saturday night to report being threatened by a particularly aggressive possum — now dubbed the “Blacks Road Ripper,” referring to the street name on which the incident took place.
The Dunedin Central Police Station told local media that they received a report around 11 p.m. from a distressed woman, who told them: “I’m being held hostage by a possum.”
About 20 minutes later, an officer arrived at the home of a University of Otago post-graduate student, who declined identification in the press.
The woman told police that she had been unpacking her car after a road trip with the pugnacious possum first attacked.
“I had put my stuff on the veranda and as I was heading back to my car … I heard this rustling,” she told New Zealand news site Stuff. “I thought, ‘That’s weird,’ and as I was taking stuff from the back seat something ran up my leg.
“I pulled it off me, thinking it was a cat, and then I saw it was a possum,” she said.
But the possum, apparently a juvenile, wouldn’t let up and “kept on charging at” her, she claimed.
That’s when she took up refuge inside of her home.
But the adamant animal continued menacing the women through the window — charging at the glass every time it spotted her.
She tried to call animal control, who reportedly referred her to the police instead.
Undeterred, the contentious creature blitzed a responding officer “and climbed up him, too,” she said. But the cop used the flare of a handy torch to stun the possum just long enough to capture it in a box and have it “carted off in the back of the police car,” she said.
Senior Sergeant Craig Dinnissen said the possum was likely an escaped pet or recently separated from its mother. They released it back into the wild “to prevent further citizen harassment,” he said.
Not to be confused with North America’s opossum, the variety of marsupial found throughout Australasia are generally much smaller by comparison. The most common species, the brushtail possum, are typically around 5 pounds and reach about 1½ feet in length in adulthood, while the opossum can grow up to 13 pounds and 2½ feet long.
Dinnissen also confirmed that no harm became of the possum or the officer, “who was happy to assist with the Blacks Road Ripper,” he added.
Though many cherish the bushy-tailed urban wildlife dweller, possums can be considered something of a nuisance throughout the region, according to Australian Geographic. The common brushtail first made it to New Zealand during the 1800s to supply their fur trade, but their population eventually ballooned to between 60 million and 70 million. Control efforts have slashed their numbers by about half — which remains about six times the island nation’s human population.
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