Can You Shoot a Possum in Your Backyard If It’s Causing Trouble?

We can relate to your frustration if you’re finding your garbage cans tipped over or an animal has made its home in your attic. The question of if you can shoot a possum in your backyard is probably first in your thoughts.

You’ll see possums in the eastern portion of the United States. They prefer forests and habitat edges near streams and ponds. However, they are also well-adapted to the presence of humans and will live happily in populated areas.

Legal Issues with Shooting Possums in the Backyard

There are several factors when considering the legality of this question, particularly at the state and local level. In some places, possums or more correctly, opossums, have legal status as a game animal. They are, after all, fur-bearing animals, and some people even eat them.

It means that a specific season and hunting hours may exist for these nocturnal scavengers. That may include trapping, hunting, or both, depending on the state. You may also have to get a license or permit. 

Using a firearm is another story with both state and federal laws a part of the mix.

Most areas don’t permit using any kind of gun within a certain distance around human dwellings, near public roads, or in your vehicle. And you don’t want to get caught doing any of these or risk a fine and seizure of your weapon and car.

If it is legal, you may find restrictions on the type of firearm you can use and how many you can take too. These regulations exist for public safety concerns and the fact that many states consider wildlife the property of its citizens.

Nuisance Animals

If the animal is causing a problem or damaging your crops if you’re a farmer, you may have a case for getting permission to take it with a nuisance animal permit. It typically applies just to possums on your property.

It’s essential to research the regulations involved. You may have to report to your local conservation police officer within a certain time after killing one. There may also exist laws regarding its disposal.

Tips for When You’re Considering Shooting Possums

Correct identification of the animal is critical. The laws and regs may differ if you’re dealing with a raccoon or other wildlife. Fortunately, possums make it easy if you see any of their tracks.

The footprint of a possum is distinctive because of its opposable thumb on its hindfoot. It also has five toes in both the front and back. You’ll usually find them in the mud near water.

Possums are often secretive, so you may not see one. They’re also excellent climbers and will likely be far up in a tree if they spot you first.

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Playing Possum

You’re likely familiar with the one trait that sets this marsupial apart from other wildlife — its ability to play dead. If you can legally shoot them, you’ll likely witness it firsthand.

For all practical purposes, the animal looks dead with its tongue hanging out and closed eyes. But don’t be fooled. The possum is fully aware of you and what’s happening around it. Also, be sure not to get too close either because part of its rouse is a foul odor to deter predators like you.

Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Preventing a Possum Problem

If the answer to if you can shoot a possum in your backyard is no, you’ll still have options to get rid of a nuisance animal. The best part is that these measures will also help you avoid issues with other pests.

Possums are omnivores and will take anything they can find. That means you need to get rid of possible food sources. For example, feed the pets indoors and keep the food there too. Other things you can do include:

  • Keeping trees trimmed near your house
  • Closing off any openings that could provide denning sites
  • Installing a chimney cap to close off access inside your home
  • Putting metal spikes on places where possums can climb like gutters
  • Investigating trapping options if you can’t shoot them

The other thing you need to consider is the opportunistic nature of possums. You may have taken the one you’ve caught tipping over the garbage cans. However, the next one isn’t too far behind to fill in the void. 

That’s why it’s imperative to make your yard inhospitable to your nocturnal visitors even if you can dispatch them with a firearm. 

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Final Thoughts About Possums in Your Yard

You may find it comforting to know that possums aren’t mean animals and will go out of their way to avoid you. They can actually help with scavenging to prevent problems with other wildlife.

Possums also aren’t major carriers of rabies, unlike other mammals like bats. Besides, they don’t live that long at only four years, max.

The question of whether or not you can shoot a possum in your backyard rests with the laws of your municipality, county, and state. However, you can easily deter a nuisance animal by making your yard less opossum-friendly.