I am originally from California. I now live in Kentucky. Last night I found a possum in my barn. I didn't think that much of it, other than being startled. I took some pics of it. I posted pics on another forum and every single person said I should have killed it because of the risk of EPM. I had heard that EPM can be carried by possums, but my thought is that if they are indigenous to the area, how much am I accomplishing by killing one possum? Is it true most horses have been exposed to the organism? Do most people kill possums on their property or deal with them?
The problem (as I see it) with a possum in the barn is that it has discovered food and shelter. If it is snarfling up spilled grain, there is a greater chance of it's feces being left where your horses are likely to come in contact with it.
You could live trap it and relocate it (somewhere MILES from your barn). Preferably before you find out it is female and you have a family of them settling in.
"If you would have only one day to live, you should spend at least half of it in the saddle."
Do most people kill possums on their property or deal with them?
In one of the more shocking things I have ever seen, about 8 years ago I was doing a live-in working student stint with a BNT. We were both standing in the barn when a possum scuttled along the barn wall. Quicker than I could blink, the BNT screamy-breathes "A POSSUM! THEY HAVE EPM!". And she picked up a pitchfork and jabbed it straight down into that possum's back. And left it there, impaled and twitching, to die a horrible death. I was so beyond shocked I didn't move, say anything, react at all.
I mean I guess they should be killed and/or relocated (or I currently have a dog who would take care of any Possum Problem all by her lonesome ), but that day? Seeing it stabbed to death by an Olympic BNT in under three seconds flat? Let's just say that image still pops into my head now and then and I'm still slightly scarred thinking about it.
It's interesting to me that possums are the one critter that my Corgis won't take on. They'll try and chase it off the property and usually are successful, but if one stands its ground, the dogs will just keep a watch on it until it leaves. The two will take on just about anything else, including coyotes. I don't if it's because the possum has a *!%k you attitude, or what.
Maybe because possums are so prehistoric looking, they just don't know what to do with it. The possums certainly don't play by the rules, according to my dogs.
I had the same questions some time ago when an opossum took up residence near my barn. Most of what I read and heard suggests that if you see one, you probably have more in the area, so trapping and relocating possums may not be very effective. The best thing you can do is to try to reduce the attractants to opossums in the barn -- make sure grain and cat food is not available to possums; and if possible not to allow them to use your hayshed as a shelter (good luck....but possibly a barn cat can help?. Other than that, there isn't too much you can do. Sadly, with the exception of the EPM/horse connection, possums are great wild animals to have around as they take care of a lot of other pests - slugs, insects, small animals - are not aggressive, very rarely carry rabies, and most often do not put up a fight if you have to move one along.