Australian man fined for stabbing nuisance possum

A possum.
A possum. Photo credit: File

Warning: This story contains images that may distress some readers.

An Australian man has been fined for stabbing a possum that had decimated his organic vegetables and interrupted his sleep.

The man had tried a variety of homemade and commercial possum deterrents but had failed to remove the animal, AAP reports.

Instead, Brisbane man Ashley Stanley used a spear made out of a knife and a broom handle. He successfully got the marsupial in the leg and it ran away to bleed out on the neighbours fence.

The neighbours took the animal's body to the RSPCA the following day and an autopsy revealed the stabbing to be its cause of death.

Stanley was then charged with animal cruelty. He pleaded guilty and was fined AU$3500 (NZ$3827) and ordered to pay AU$1400 (NZ$1531) in court costs.

His lawyer argued he used a hoe to attack the possum, but the magistrate said it was clear the attack was premeditated.

The dead possum.
The dead possum. Photo credit: RSPCA Australia

"You can buy a garden implement that will do that, you don't have to fashion a knife on the end of a broomstick ... I'm not persuaded," Tina Privitera said.

The RSPCA said in a statement people need to know that when they're bothered by animals living nearby the animals are just as likely bothered by them.

"There are reasonable ways to deal with possums if they cause a nuisance but knife on the end of a stick is not one of them," it said.

Unlike in New Zealand, possums are not considered a pest in Australia - in fact, they're a protected species.