Police in New Zealand had no option but to release a furry “suspect” into the wild after it reportedly held a woman “hostage.”
A woman in the South Island city of Dunedin had called the police in a state of distress on Sunday night, claiming that a possum was holding her “hostage” at her home in the Opoho suburb, reported the Otago Daily Times.
The woman, who did not want to be named, told New Zealand news website Stuff that she had just returned home from South Island’s Timaru city and was unpacking her car, when she heard a rustling noise.
“I thought ‘that’s weird’, and as I was taking stuff from the back seat something ran up my leg,” she said. “I pulled it off me, thinking it was a cat, and then I saw it was a possum.”
The woman said she was with familiar with possums as she had grown up at a farm, but said the possum kept “charging at me”.
She managed to get inside her house, but every time the possum saw her through the glass door, it kept running at her.
The woman was referred to the police after animal control officials told her they could not come because of an overenthusiastic possum.
Police arrived at her house 20 minutes after she dialled the emergency number, alleging she “had been held hostage by a possum.”
An officer was able to stun the possum using light from his torch, even as it tried to climb at his leg. The officer then put the possum in a box with dried pet food.
Senior sergeant Craig Dinnissen of the Dunedin police said they took the possum to a nearby lookout spot called Signal Hill and released it into the wild “to prevent further citizen harassment,” said a report by The Guardian.
No harm was done to the officer or the possum, officials pointed out.
Veterinarians said it was possible that the possum was acting out of fear. “The typical thing for most wild animals would be to run away. Unless, as it’s a juvenile, it is perhaps still learning how to deal with threats,” Rachel Stratton, a veterinarian and animal behaviour expert, told the outlet.
The possum population in New Zealand has grown exponentially after they were first brought from Australia in 1837 to establish a fur trade. A 2009 Landcare study estimated their population had exceeded 47 million.
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