More To The Story: A Passion for Possums

Possums are those furry little critters that you might find in your yard. Maybe even in your trash can and quite often, unfortunately, you’ll see one squished in the middle of the road but for one man here in Chattanooga, possums are a passion. He’s doing all he can to make their lives better.

“I don’t think there’s anything I would be afraid to handle.”

So says Jerry Harvey! As he walks down the hill behind his house. Jerry is the driving force behind Opie Acres. It’s a wildlife rehab center here in Chattanooga.
Jerry and his group of volunteers rehab many animals. But mainly, possums. Opie is a nickname for possum.

Harvey’s been in the rehab business for over 30 years. It became his full-time job five years ago. His main furry patient is possum.

“They are the most misunderstood and mistreated animal in the wild world. So, I felt like somebody needed to be an advocate. So I always have been. And I simply then took that to the next level.”

Opie Acres is a non-profit. It works closely with TWRA. And it relies mainly on fund-raising and donations. Jerry has about 24 volunteers working with him.
During the peak season, Opie Acres will house between 100 and 250 animals. Mostly possums. Some racoons. Even a weasel.
Most need rehabbing of some sorts. Food, medicine, the whole sphere. Jerry says there are not enough hours in the day!

“The spring and summer months are a madhouse. People don’t realize what it takes. It’s astounding. We can get as many as 30-50 animals a day. We’re always short on money, short on volunteers and sometimes we’re short on energy.”

Harvey says that 90 percent of the animals housed here are released back into the wild. A select few are used for educational purposes. And for those few possums that…..don’t make it…..well, they are cremated. Jerry has a special shelf…..just for them.

Categories: Chattanooga, Hamilton County, Local News, More To The Story With Staley