Mary Cummins Animal Advocates Los Angeles California Wildlife Rehabilitation Real Estate

Friday, November 7, 2014

When and how did the opossum make it to California? Mary Cummins, Animal Advocates

When and how did the opossum make it to California? Mary Cummins, Animal Advocates, Los Angeles, California

Virginia opossum, California, Fish and Wildlife, Mary Cummins,  Animal Advocates, wildlife rehabilitator, Los Angeles
Nicole Carion head of Wildlife Rehabilitation for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife sent all rehabbers a letter stating opossums are not native to California. She told me personally they are only native to "Virginia." She asked that we not rehab them but it wasn't mandatory to kill them at this time. From her letter,

May 1, 2007

"Through genetic studes scientist (sic) have recently discovered that the red fox population in the Sacramaento Valley is native and closely related ot the endangered Sierra Nevada Red Fox." You may rehab these. "For all other areas of the state the red fox genotype is still considered non-native. If you receive a non-native red fox, the animal cannot be released backinto the wild and must either be placed at an appropriate facility or humanely euthanized."

"Opossums and eastern gray and red fox (sic) squirrels, although not native to California, may be rehabilitated and released pursuant to the conditions listed in this memorandum; however, these animals adversely compete with native California wildlife to their detriment and the department recommends euthanasia rather than release."


Nicole Carion, Fish and Wildlife, wildlife rehabilitation, Mary Cummins, Animal Advocates, Los Angeles, California, opossum, squirrel, native, non-native, euthanize


Nicole Carion is incorrect. The squirrels and opossums do not compete with native animals. I wrote an article about our native gray squirrel vs eastern gray and eastern fox squirrel. The native gray is threatened because it only lives in mature trees which are being destroyed by the bark beetle. Eastern gray and fox squirrels are more adaptable living in many different environments. They also only have one litter per year whereas fox squirrels have two.

Years ago Fish and Game stated these animals are new native as they've been here for many, many years. The opossum has slowly been spreading to the entire US for many, many years. Some believe the opossums that are here were brought here for food, fur and didn't make their way on their own. One reason for this notion was that opossums can't take cold weather and would not be able to cross the rockies. Opossums can survive cold weather though their ears and tails might not survive after the first winter. In this pdf book they have a few stories about how opossums came to California.

"Perhaps the most interesting story is how the opossum came to California and the Pacific Coast, expanding its range as far north as southern British Columbia. Before human interven- tion, the hostile environments associated with the mountain ranges and surrounding deserts kept the opossum from spreading to the West Coast. However, in 1890 the Virginia opossum was introduced into southern California near Los Angeles. This population became well established and expanded into adjacent Ventura County by 19. Immigrants, originally from Tennessee, imported an additional group of live opossums from that state into central Califor- nia (near San Jose) in 1910. The live opossums were sent as food items as individuals from this region of the United States considered opossums a delicacy at the time. Several escaped their hutches over time and provided one of the initial populations of opossums into this region of California. Another individual introduced an additional documented group of opossums from South Carolina to a farm near Visalia, California, in an attempt to raise opossums as fur-bearers. Opossum fur at that time was being used as an inexpensive fur trim for some garments and hats. After several years of failure, the fur farmer abandoned this enterprise and many of the animals were simply released into the surrounding countryside. Since this initial introduc- tion, the opossum has prospered along the coast and expanded its range over a considerable area of California, in particular those regions associated with agriculture."


More recent research and has shown that the opossum actually existed during the Eocene epoch (56 to 34 million years ago) in Simi, Fillmore, Santa Paula in Ventura County. They discovered opossum fossils in the Tapo Ranch that date to this era (Fossil Vertebrates of Southern California, pg 20, Theodore Downs, 1968, UCLA). Perhaps the climate was not as cold at this time or the rockies weren't as tall as they are today. The Rocky Mountains were formed 80 to 55 million years ago. 


Other writers state that there have been many different sub-species of opossums in the Americas. The Virginia opossum is but one which made it to the lower deserts of California. The Virginia opossum was better able to survive colder climates but cannot withstand temperatures -7 C. It also cannot withstand very arid areas though it can take tropical heat. 


Obviously the opossum is not native to only "Virginia." It is merely called the "Virginia Opossum" as that is when it was first named in the Americas. The opossum existed many, many years before Virginia, the US or even the Americas existed and were populated.

More misinformation from Nicole Carion.


The below slides are from a power point presentation made by Nicole Carion in 2014. She states that ONLY opossums carry sarcocysities neurona. This is false. Domestic cats also carry it as to skunks, raccoons and sea otters. Here are some studies which prove this. This is why it's illegal to flush used cat litter down the toilet. It even says this on the side of litter boxes. Fish & Wildlife is the agency which made litter makers put it on the boxes. 


"What's killing the sea otters? Sometimes the cause is clear: a shark bite, a bullet, an outboard motor. But about one-quarter of last year's fatalities have been traced to a pair of protozoan parasites, Toxoplasma gondii and Sarcocystis neurona, that are known to breed in cats and opossums." Could sea otters be dying because California cat owners are flushing used litter down the toilet?

State legislators were sufficiently convinced of the threat to pass a bill--signed into law last week by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger--that raises the maximum fine for harming a sea otter to $25,000 and requires that all cat litter sold in California carry a warning label advising cat owners not to dump their pet's droppings into toilets or storm drains."

She also states that most people feel opossums are pests. Opossums actually eat roaches, mice, rats, snails, slugs...They eat "pests" besides dead rotting animals or rotten fallen fruit. Notice she used a photo of an opossum showing its teeth. So much misinformation from Nicole Carion.

Mary Cummins Animal Advocates Los Angeles California Fish Game Wildlife Rehabilitation


Mary Cummins of Animal Advocates is a wildlife rehabilitator licensed by the California Department of Fish and Game and theUSDAMary Cummins is also a licensed real estate appraiser in Los Angeles, California.


Google+ Mary Cummins, Mary K. Cummins, Mary Katherine Cummins, Mary Cummins-Cobb, Mary, Cummins, Cobb, wildlife, wild, animal, rescue, wildlife rehabilitation, wildlife rehabilitator, fish, game, los angeles, california, united states, squirrel, raccoon, fox, skunk, opossum, coyote, bobcat, manual, instructor, speaker, humane, nuisance, control, pest, trap, exclude, deter, green, non-profit, nonprofit, non, profit, ill, injured, orphaned, exhibit, exhibitor, usda, united states department of agriculture, hsus, humane society, peta, ndart, humane academy, humane officer, animal legal defense fund, animal cruelty, investigation, peace officer, animal, cruelty, abuse, neglect #marycummins #animaladvocates #losangeles #california #wildlife #wildliferehabilitation #wildliferehabilitator #realestate #realestateappraiser #realestateappraisal #lawsuit

Mary Cummins of Animal Advocates is a wildlife rehabilitator licensed by the California Department of Fish and Game and the USDA. Mary Cummins is also a licensed real estate appraiser in Los Angeles, California.


Google+ Mary Cummins, Mary K. Cummins, Mary Katherine Cummins, Mary Cummins-Cobb, Mary, Cummins, Cobb, wildlife, wild, animal, rescue, wildlife rehabilitation, wildlife rehabilitator, fish, game, los angeles, california, united states, squirrel, raccoon, fox, skunk, opossum, coyote, bobcat, manual, instructor, speaker, humane, nuisance, control, pest, trap, exclude, deter, green, non-profit, nonprofit, non, profit, ill, injured, orphaned, exhibit, exhibitor, usda, united states department of agriculture, hsus, humane society, peta, ndart, humane academy, humane officer, animal legal defense fund, animal cruelty, investigation, peace officer, animal, cruelty, abuse, neglect #marycummins #animaladvocates #losangeles #california #wildlife #wildliferehabilitation #wildliferehabilitator #realestate #realestateappraiser #realestateappraisal #lawsuit

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