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Late on Sunday night, a distressed woman called police to report she was ‘‘being held hostage’’ in her Blacks Rd home.
The aggressor, police soon learned, was a particularly personable baby possum.
Senior Sergeant Craig Dinnissen said the woman reported that when she attempted to leave her house and reach her car, the possum would ‘‘charge’’, forcing her to flee inside.
When police arrived soon after 11pm they quickly discovered the furry offender after the juvenile possum appeared out of the dark and climbed up an officer’s leg.
The possum was subsequently taken to nearby Signal Hill and released into the wild in order to ‘‘prevent further citizen harassment’’.
The woman who had been caring for the possum said she hand-reared the animal after it turned up on her doorstep earlier this year.
‘‘She’s quite friendly with humans hence the climbing up leg situation ... but her claws were trimmed,’’ she said.
The woman, who did not wish to be identified, was hoping to work with police to locate the animal.
Caring for and releasing possums is a source of contention and online debate.
While the marsupials are protected in Australia, in New Zealand they are considered pests.
While the Otago Regional Council discouraged harbouring possums anywhere in Otago, a spokesman said its rules prohibited harbouring possums only in certain areas, including the Otago Peninsula and West-Harbour to Mt Cargill.
The residential area that included Blacks Rd was not included in the prohibited area.