AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - Wildlife officials are using a viral video of an Amarillo opossum as an example to teach a lesson.
We often see videos of sea turtles or other aquatic life getting trash stuck around parts of their bodies. But an area opossum is the latest victim. And wildlife officials hope people like you and I take notice of the consequences.
Amarillo Animal Management Officer and Wildlife Biologist Kara Pierce was called out to a routine call about an opossum in someone's yard. But this one was a little different.
He was cold, covered in fleas and had a ring around him.
"As soon as I pulled it out of its hiding place, that's when I saw its rings around its neck and I knew something just wasn't quite right with that," says Pierce.
"We quickly realized it was more than just something stuck on him," says Wild West Wildlife Rehabilitation Center Founder Stephanie Oravetz. "The plastic rings from either like soda cans or beer cans was actually stuck around the right side of under the armpit going up and around the neck and it had been embedded in there for several weeks at least."
The little guy has since been called, "Ringo." With Amarillo now having the title of windiest city in the country, adding trash makes the perfect recipe for situations like this.
And Oravetz hopes this can serve as an eye-opener for not only people in our area, but around the world.
"Things like yogurt containers, plastic rings that go around soda cans, even the handles to plastic bags. It just takes a few seconds if people just cut that off before throwing them in the garbage because we do live in a windy city," says Oravetz. "Even if we do it properly, things can get blown around."
Many see opossums as a useless creature and quickly reach for their gun. But Oravetz says, you may want to think again.
And despite what many think, the chance of rabies in an opossum is extremely rare.
"One opossum alone can eat up to 2,000 ticks a week, which we need in the panhandle. We have lots of ticks, so it helps to keep Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses at bay," says Oravetz.
"They do great in human populated areas, so if you see them around leave them alone and let them be."
Ringo is now in good shape healing, but he still needs at least three more weeks before he can be released.