Possum back with best mate

JOSIE the possum could be about to start a new career as a teacher.

The affectionate, tame, constant companion to Mount Morgan animal lover Raoul Harvey, gained national notoriety last week when she went on the run to avoid capture by the authorities.

Raoul hid her deep in the bush when he was told she would be taken from him because it was illegal to keep possums as pets.

But after a public outcry, he's been told he can continue to care for the six-year-old critter and Fred, another possum he rescued from certain death.

And Raoul intends to take the animals into schools throughout the region to help to teach youngsters about native Australian wildlife.

The 62-year-old pensioner told The Morning Bulletin he was contemplating joining the RSPCA and looking forward to showing-off Josie.

“It's what I've wanted to do for a long time,” he said.

Fred was returned to Raoul's five-acre property earlier this week and yesterday Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM) wildlife director, Nick Rigby, indicated the possums would be allowed to stay with Raoul as long as he agreed to work with a licensed wildlife care group.

He said: “The Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM) is responsible for the conservation of nature in Queensland.

“DERM licenses wildlife care groups to rehabilitate sick, injured or orphaned native animals such as possums. The goal is to release these animals back to the wild.

“It is illegal to take or keep native animals in Queensland without a licence. However, some captive-bred native birds may be kept without a licence.

“In this particular case, a licensed wildlife care group intends to work closely with Mr Harvey to ensure the possums can be returned to their natural habitat.”

But Raoul says it is clear to the experts that neither possum could be successfully released into the wild because they have been dependent on him for too long and could never fend for themselves.

It's what I've wanted to do for a long time


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