To me, Nature is God. Without it, we simply would not exist. Conserving the world’s natural spaces and the creatures that live there is paramount to the survival of humans as a species, and I have therefore dedicated my life to studying environmentalism in order to help people co-exist more successfully and sustainably with the natural world.
All natural materials I use in my creations are either sourced from roadkill, Fish and Game, secondhand sources such as fellow artists and estate sales, or are antique. In this way, I'm ensuring that no animals were needlessly killed for the sake of the artwork I produce. I fully believe that no part of any creature should go to waste if a purpose can be found for it, but I do NOT support trophy hunters or overseas fur farms by buying 'byproducts' like bones, skulls, or claws directly from them. The only exception I make for this rule is for parts from animals legally culled for population control programs approved by Fish and Wildlife.
As a photographer and wildlife enthusiast, I've been involved with many fantastic organizations such as Images4Life and Wild Tiger, as well as the Sierra Club and many smaller, local groups.
I've been published, interviewed, and even featured on Rainn Wilson (Dwight from “The Office”)'s personal networking website, SoulPancake.com.
I’ve also been blessed with the opportunity to visit many of the world’s most amazing wild places, like Komodo Island, Bali, Lombok, Malaysia, and the Cayman Islands, and have even documented entirely new species previously unknown to science.
Other interests include: Wilderness survival, primitive skills, backpacking, fishing, kayaking, boffing, airsoft, snowboarding, meandering around town, and caving.
I think the woman was expecting me to kill it and use the hide for taxidermy. I’d have been happy to do so except that I don’t like to kill things unless it’s for food, or unless the target species is something like a coyote which causes huge problems in this area. Opossum do cause problems occasionally - they eat chicken eggs, which is why I was opposed to releasing it anywhere on this side of the swale - my side is the side which has a lot of farms that raise livestock, chickens included.
I figured releasing it on the opposite end of the county would reduce conflict with animals, especially with a body of water to aid the divide. I have no doubt that it will eventually get shot or trapped by a farmer if it sticks around out there for too long, but it seems that opossums are generally nomadic and will not establish permanent territories.
In any event, I have certainly learned my lesson about being certain that my customers clarify whether or not their deliveries are dead or alive before they drop them by.
On a related note, I appreciate the input from people who begged me not to kill the bugger, but it seems that many of you are ill-informed when it comes to veterinary care for wildlife. I cannot take animals like this to just any vet, and in fact, even local rehabilitation centers will not accept opossums because they’re not native to the area. There is a HUGE difference between vets, wildlife rehabilitators, and animal control, but it seems that a LOT of folks here assume they’re all the same exact thing.
Here’s the breakdown: Vets are licensed to work with domestic animals - generally dogs and cats. Out here, we do have large animal vets that work on cows, horses, goats, llamas, etc. If we wanted to bring one of the chinchillas to a vet, we’d have to drive all the way up to Portland, as that’s where the nearest exotic animal vet is located. All three of these vets are still vets, but have different licenses and experience levels when it comes to working with different species. I would not take Cabal to a large animal vet for surgical matters, just as I would not take Blackjack to a vet that specializes in exotics.
So what vet would one bring an opossum to?
You could try to bring it to a wildlife rehabilitation center. Wildlife rehabbers are state licensed to take care of wildlife specifically. They’re not usually vets in the traditional sense of the term, but they do have basic medical skills for treating sicks and injured wildlife. Their goal is to nurse the animals back to health and release them in appropriate places once they are strong enough to survive on their own again. But since opossums are not a native wildlife species in this area, most rehabilitation personnel will not accept them for treatment.
Animal control is the place you’d call if you found an infestation of raccoons in your attic. Lots of them claim to be ‘humane’ by using things like live traps. People are happy to see them leave with live animals, thinking that they will release them a safe distance outside the city, but depending on where you live, state law actually requires them to kill any and all wildlife that may be a carrier of rabies. I know this first-hand because I have gotten pelts before from animal control. There is even one in New York which has it’s own furrier so that the hides are not wasted, which I appreciate immensely.
So while the opossum was released this time, bear in mind that this kind of thing cannot happen in the future. I released it because I didn’t want to kill it just for the sake of taxidermy, but if this happens again, I’m going to have to look at the bigger picture here: Opossums are not native. They cannot be taken in to vets, wildlife rehabs, or animal control. Releasing them in farmland with lots of livestock is not an option. Releasing them in the deep woods is not an option. Keeping it as a pet is not an option. That leaves me with few choices: I can either drive it out to city limits and put a .22 through its ear to end the animal’s life in a quick and humane manner; or I can release it into a field far from livestock where it will no doubt eventually become someone else’s problem, get mauled by farm dogs, eaten by a hawk, or hit by a tractor.
prarievarg said: Knowing you, this is pure sarcasm. Man why the fuck do people in animal-related jobs not know jack shit about what they’re saying.
Gods, I wish I was being sarcastic. But that is literally what the lady told me to do, and since I feel increasingly opposed to killing it myself (discharging my .22 on the property would probably warrant a visit from the cops anyhow and the only other methods of killing it are much less swift), this really does seem like my best option. :/
goldroadtonowhere said: Let Jude hunt it?
Jude has a personal vendetta against opossums. Whenever he gets to pick out a new toy at the pet store, he goes right for the stuffed opossum squeaky and proceeds to utterly destroy it after a week or so. According to his second owners, he killed an opossum in their yard once. So that probably has something to do with it.
But no, I don’t want to encourage Jude’s prey drive issue any further, nor would I want to risk him getting bit. I suspect it would be a pretty traumatizing end for the opossum to boot. So that’s not in the cards.
The local wildlife rehab center suggested just releasing it in a city park. I don’t want to make it someone else’s problem, but I also don’t want to kill it, nor release it out here in farm country or in the deep woods. So I guess the park idea is the best option at this point.
Just called up a local rehab center and they said that they couldn’t take the opossum, but that I could probably just release it in a park somewhere and it would be fine and dandy. The scrape on the nose isn’t a concern, she said, but letting it go out in the woods far away from human habitation probably wouldn’t bode well for him. So I guess I’ll be making this opossum someone else’s problem tonight when I casually drop it off in the city park. Maybe I’ll find it again some day as roadkill.
lionsilverwolf said: That’s actually kind of funny. Now I guess you have to start asking if an animal’s dead before you accept it!
This is literally an issue I never thought I’d have. But I guess now I can say: “Fellow taxidermists - learn from my fail: Always ask if the animal you are getting is alive or dead before saying ‘sure!’ when someone offers it to you.”