'Deplorable': South Island man filmed punching possum

A video showing a South Island man harming a possum by punching it in the face has left animal rights advocates furious.

In a clip posted to TikTok, a man who lives in the central South Island is seen goading a possum on a fence line before punching it in the face.

"Hey dick, what are you doing there?" a woman can be heard saying in the footage.

"Shall I smack him?" the man is heard asking.

The woman then encourages the violent act, saying "smack him".

The man can be seen hitting the possum with his fist, sending it flying off the fence and onto the ground.

A loud thud could be heard on the video as the man's fist made impact with the possum before those watching laughed at the violent act.

On social media, the man then claimed he shot the possum after punching it in the face.

The man defended himself on social media when a viewer told him his actions were "not very nice", writing: "Neither is the fact that possums are killing native, endangers species (sic)."

When asked why he would do something like that, he responded "cause I can".

It's not the first time such an act has been caught on camera. A similar video surfaced a few years ago, filmed in Waimate. 

Direct Animal Action spokeswoman Deirdre Sims says the recent video is deplorable and is an act of animal cruelty.

"While possums are considered 'pests' in New Zealand, what is shown in this TikTok video is blatant animal cruelty and this is not acceptable behaviour.

"The fact that it is being glorified on social media makes it even more despicable.

"We have reported this video to the New Zealand SPCA who've advised us that they have an investigation underway.

"We are calling on the SPCA not to take this lightly but to take serious action on it.

"People need to know that animal abuse should not be used as a tool to get more views, likes and shares on social media," says Sims.

The SPCA says they will be investigating the incident.

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