When roadkill may be playing possum, check for babies

Tomah friends rescue babies from momma that vehicle had killed

TOMAH (WKBT) — Jamie Steele learned, in startling fashion, never to assume that what appears to be road kill is totally dead — it may have a few more lives.
Traveling Hwy. 16 home to Tomah after visiting her mom, Jody Lorentson, in Sparta about 1 a.m. today, the 30-year-old animal lover saw a dead possum in the middle of the road.
“At first I was like, ‘Aww, sad,’ but remembered a fb video I saw about going back to check for babes,” Steele posted on her Facebook page Thursday. Sooooo I did … saw mama dead with a few babies dead as well on the road.”

During an interview, Steele said, “Then I saw her stomach moving. I thought there might be more babies.”

Retrieving a sweatshirt from her car, she draped it over the momma possum’s tail and pulled her to the side of the road.
When she lifted the mother’s leg to check things out, she said, “I saw several babies moving around inside — I’m freaking out, by the way.”

Josie And Jaime

Josie Mendoza and Jamie Steele don’t play possum when it comes to rescuing baby animals.

Steele said she called her best friend, Josie Mendoza, for help, then the police to see whether someone there could help. When the animal control person wasn’t available, the officer told her just “let nature take its course,” she said.
“I cannot leave when there is life there,” said Steele, who has two dogs and two cats. “It’s not in my nature to let innocent baby animals die if I can help it.”
While waiting for Mendoza to arrive, she said she Googled to see where the closest wildlife rescue site might be and discovered it was Rhinelander, Wis., about 150 miles away.
Mendoza said she wasn’t surprised at all that Steele would call her in the night with animal rescue on her mind.
“I knew she wasn’t going to leave them there, and she was sure I wouldn’t say no,” said Mendoza, who also is 30 and has pets of her own.
Although four baby possums had perished, the nature midwives proceeded to deliver nine more, called ljoeys in the baby stage.
Today, Steele and Mendoza drove the 300-mile round trip to deliver the ljoeys to the rescue center, where workers told them the babies were in fine fettle and probably will survive.
Steele said in the interview she wasn’t seeking publicity. Even on her Facebook post, she had written, “I know some of you might laugh but I don’t care.
“I just wanted to share my story with others as a reminder to check for babies. Obviously, be safe, but do what you can and contact the closest wildlife rescue,” she said.