For Immediate Release: June 21, 2005 NR05-10
OPOSSUM FOUND IN MILITARY CHARTER AIRCRAFT AT HICKAM AFB
HONOLULU - A live opossum was discovered by members of a military air support group at Hickam Air Force Base on Sunday, June 19th. The crew found the opossum running around in the plane as they were off-loading cargo from a Polar Air aircraft, which arrived from Travis Air Force Base in California. The crew closed all the aircraft doors and trapped the animal under a pallet. Inspectors from the Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA), where called and with the assistance of the crew, captured the animal at about 7:15 p.m.
"We appreciate the awareness and quick action by the air support crew that resulted in the capture of the opossum," said Neil Reimer, Manager of the Plant Quarantine Branch. "The involvement of ground crew personnel at both military and commercial airports is crucial in helping to protect Hawaii from alien plant and animal species."
The opossum captured was grayish in color and about 12 inches in length. Opossums are native to North America and are omnivorous, with diets that range from insects, bird eggs, and rodents to fruits and vegetables. While opossums are less likely to carry rabies than other mammals, they are carriers of parasites and diseases. As a safeguard, the opossum was euthanized yesterday and tests for rabies were sent to the State Laboratory at the Hawaii Department of Health.
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