ANIMAL LOVER: Mikala Burns says she is being falsely accused of shooting possum, after a staged photo that was never meant to go online went viral.
ANIMAL LOVER: Mikala Burns says she is being falsely accused of shooting possum, after a staged photo that was never meant to go online went viral. Contributed

'I'm an animal lover': hunter denies shooting possum

UPDATE Friday 3pm:

TWO Gympie women accused online of shooting a possum, after a photo of them posing with a gun and the dead native went viral on social media, say they did not hunt the possum.

Mikala Burns, who was on her first pig hunting trip to Amamoor with three girls last week, said the group came across the injured animal on the road.

"It was still moving - but you couldn't help it. It looked like someone ran over it - the blood and everything was everywhere,” Ms Burns said.

Mikala Burns with her horse Jacko.
Mikala Burns with her horse Jacko. Contributed

The amateur hunter said she hit the dying possum over the head with a shovel to humanely put it out of it's misery.

"That's how I've been taught - I'm an animal lover,” she said of her actions.

"There was no saving it - the side of it's face was squished.”

INCRIMINATING: This photo posted to Instagram of two women, suspected from Gympie, posing with a dead possum and a gun has lead to an RSPCA investigation.
INCRIMINATING: This photo posted to Instagram of two women, suspected from Gympie, posing with a dead possum and a gun has lead to an RSPCA investigation. Contributed

As a joke, she said they posed with the possum, but the photo was never meant to leave the group.

Days later, Ms Burns - who chooses not be on social media - found out a friend had uploaded the staged photo to Instagram and captioned it: "Can't wait to go hunting again.”

Now the poor-taste image has gone viral, she said, attracting a barrage of comments with some claiming that "she should be up in a tree and shot at” for her actions.

"I'm getting phone calls and I feel like I can't walk down the street without people staring at me,” she said.

The photo was also reported to the RSPCA and Department of Environment and Science, who confirmed on Wednesday they were looking into it.

"I know the photo looks bad - but I'm sick of keyboard warriors,” Ms Burns said.

"It's gone too far. I just want people to know I didn't shoot it because I didn't.

"I just want the real story out there.”

Ms Burns said she had given her side of the story to police who were working with other departments who were investigating the incident.

Mikala Burns says she is an animal lover and did not shoot a possum, as she is being accused of on social media.
Mikala Burns says she is an animal lover and did not shoot a possum, as she is being accused of on social media. Contributed

EARLIER:

A GRUESOME photo of a gun-toting woman posing with a friend swinging a dead possum has lead to an RSPCA investigation.

The trophy-style photo was uploaded to Instagram over the weekend, by a woman believed to be a Gympie resident, with the caption, "I need a night out hunting again with the (name withheld) family.”

The online boast has not only outraged wildlife carers in the region, but could lead to prosecution under the nature conservation act or animal care and protection act, RSPCA spokesman Michael Beatty said.

Mr Beatty said unfortunately the incident was one of many hunting attacks reported on wildlife in Queensland.

"I can't think what there is to boast about; shooting a small animal that is one of our natives. What possible gratification do you get from shooting a possum?” Mr Beatty said.

Anarra Wildlife Group president Paula Rowlands, who is currently rehabilitating two possums at her home, was equally mortified.

"It's illegal to interfere with any of our native wildlife and to stand there with it like a trophy hunter from America is absolutely disgusting.

"There are a lot of people in Gympie who care for possums, and the number of possums that are being lost in this area and in any area is huge - they're all going like our koalas are.

"I'm disgusted and shocked. We spend so much money rehabilitating these animals - it's not cheap to rehabilitate possums.”

Paula Rowlands.
Paula Rowlands. Renee Albrecht

The Gympie carer, who recently released two possums into the wild, said the only possums she had cared for had not been intentionally hurt by humans.

"People ring us up hysterical (if they hurt them) - we've had people very distressed when they get caught in carport roller doors,” she said.

Complaints have also reached the Department of Environment and Science which is investigating the matter under the Nature Conservation Act 1992 and a $650 penalty could apply.

DES receives a high number of reports relating to possums as they are a highly urbanised species.

Members of the public are encouraged to report wildlife incidents to DES on 1300 130 372.

Gympie Times


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