A BABY brushtail possum has been found alive but with an arrow through its body at Cooran, shot through the side while clinging to its mother.
The possum was rescued after being discovered by local residents last Sunday on a nature strip at the rear of their property and is now recovering under the care of the Eumundi Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre.
The shooting is the second senseless act of animal cruelty under investigation by the RSPCA in the Gympie region.
RSPCA inspector for the Sunshine Coast and Cooloola, Julia Steley, said while the circumstances surrounding the shooting were still unknown it is believed at least two shots had been fired at the animal, with a second arrow found in a nearby tree.
She said due to the possum's young age, it was likely it had been riding on its mother's back at the time it was shot. The mother had most likely fled the scene and as a result the baby had fallen off and been left behind.
The young female's prognosis is guarded at this stage because the arrow severed a major nerve and veterinarians are concerned it may not recover full movement of its hand.
Mrs Steley said vets at the Eumundi Wildlife and Rehabilitation Centre were doing regular physiotherapy with the animal but that it would be some time until they knew whether it can once again survive in the wild.
"It will be another six weeks or so before the vet makes the decision as to whether physio is working and as a result whether it can be released or not, if it does not regain full control of its hand then we won't be able to release it as it will not be able to forage, climb, mate or protect itself from predators," she said.
"It's just horrific. It's really disgraceful that an animal can be treated in such a way and as a result resources are drained just because someone wanted to shoot a bow and arrow," she said.
Unfortunately this kind of animal cruelty is not isolated. The RSPCA is seeing an increasing number of cases of bows and arrows being used to kill or injure animals.
"Some people seem to think it's okay to shoot at living animals with a bow and arrow; it most definitely is not okay," she said.
And severe penalties apply because the brushtail possum is a native species. If found the perpetrators will face charges under both the Native Conservation Act and The Animal Care and Protection Act.
Last week the RSPCA investigated a female kangaroo that had been found shot with an arrow at Greenbank. It died.
RSPCA inspectors also managed to find those responsible for torturing a possum deliberately run over by a car in Brisbane. They have been charged with serious animal cruelty, a charge that carries a maximum penalty of seven years jail.
It was through the act being filmed and shared on social media that the RSPCA was able to find and charge the pair responsible.
In Gympie, the RSPCA is also investigating the destruction of a large family of native welcome swallows under the Southside supermarket.
Mrs Steley is urging anyone who knows anything about these any of these incidents or other animal cruelty offences in the area to contact 1300ANIMAL.