A Rumford man who claimed an opossum attacked him last month has been summonsed for animal cruelty for allegedly cutting off the marisupal’s tail.
The Lewiston Sun Journal reports that Erik Matthews, 32, faces up to a $2,500 fine and could be required to pay for the opossum’s care. He could also be prohibited from owning any animals if convicted of the civil violation, which carries no jail time.
Matthews on June 22 called the Maine Warden Service claiming an opossum had attacked him. He allegedly told the warden service that he “killed” the opossum, cut off its tail and then left it, according to a previously published report.
When he later returned to the scene with game wardens, they found the opossum was gone. Some time after that, the opossum was trapped in the Rumford area and taken to a Misfits Rehab, a wildlife rescue center in Auburn.
The warden service investigated the incident, and then turned it over to the Oxford County district attorney’s Office to determine possible charges, the Sun Journal reports.
The opossum was well-known around the Rumford neighborhood near where the incident happened, and locals nicknamed it Percy, according to the Sun Journal.
It’s likely the opossum will spend the rest of its life at Misfits Rehab. Opossums use their tails to maintain balance when climbing trees or foraging for food. Without its tail, the opossum will not be able to return to the wild, the Sun Journal reports.