Raoul's possum magic

FOR the past six years Josie the possum has been Raoul Harvey's constant companion.

And he's not going to give her up without a fight.

When I met him yesterday, with Josie in her customary position nestled inside his shirt, Raoul was preparing to go into hiding, on the run from the RSPCA and Parks and Wildlife officers.

“They're not getting Josie. She doesn't know how to look after herself. If she's separated from me it will kill her,” he said.

He described how he raised Josie from when she was only a couple of inches long at his five acre property near Mount Morgan.

“I used to feed her mother and one day she came into the house and refused to leave. When we got up the next morning she was dead and Josie was in her pouch.

“It's as if her mum knew what was going to happen and knew that I'd look after her.”

He said he fed the tiny possum every three hours and they had been inseparable ever since.

Yesterday the RSPCA arrived to seize Josie and a three-year-old male possum, Fred, which he also cares for.

“They took Fred. What have I done wrong? How can it be illegal to care for her and give her the best of everything?”

Central Queensland RSPCA senior inspector Shane Towers-Hammond sees it differently.

“Nobody likes taking animals from people, it's stressful for everyone. But it's illegal to keep possums as pets,” he said. “If he continues to refuse to surrender the animal there's an option for us to go to court. We can't allow this to continue.”

Mr Towers-Hammond said it was unfair to keep a wild animal in domestic conditions.

“They become very stressed.”

But Raoul thinks it's cruel for the authorities to interfere.

“I'm only a pensioner, but I'll spend everything to keep her.

“I can see the point of the law, but surely there can be exceptions and common sense.”

WILD LIFE • It is illegal in Queensland to keep any native mammal as a pet • Some reptiles and non-poisonous snakes can be kept with appropriate permits

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