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UPDATE: 3 facing charges after alleged opossum abuse pictures go viral
BLOOMSBURG, COLUMBIA COUNTY (WOLF-TV) —
UPDATE: Three people are now facing charges in the incident.
At least one of them is a Bloomsburg University Student.
The most serious charge is disturbance of game or wildlife.
They could face up to three months in jail and a fine of $15,000.
Officials are investigating several images taken over the weekend.
They show a group of young men holding up a opossum, forcing beer down its throat, and then shoving it in a trash can.
At least one of the men is a Bloomsburg University student.
The images quickly went viral.
"I was just disgusted by it. I was thrown back. I couldn't believe that it happened here,” Ryan Soley, a junior, added.
School officials say they've received messages from people as far away as Australia.
Students we spoke to first saw the images on social media.
"I just think it's really disgusting and sad just to see an animal treated like that. I have pets of my own. I have always loved animals. I think it's really unfortunate that an animal somehow got caught in the hands of people who really didn't care and someone who really put it to harm,” Sydney Smith, a Bloomsburg senior, said.
A spokesperson for the school says they've been investigating the incident since they first found out about it early Monday morning.
In a statement to FOX56, the school says:
"The University is taking this matter very seriously and does not condone the actions depicted on social media. Any Bloomsburg University student involved will be subject to the Student Code of Conduct."
The State Game Commission says it's also investigating.
But students would not likely face animal cruelty charges since the laws for wildlife are different than domestic animals.
Their actions however could be a violation of the state's possession or disturbance of wildlife laws... which come with fines of more than $1,000.
"I think there should be more rules. I think there should be more rules. I think it's really unfair to take an animal out of a home that we're technically borrowing, you know, their home from them,” Smith said.
"I wasn't familiar with those laws. But now that you say it's actually not a felony, maybe they should consider it,” Soley added.
Bloomsburg University says possible disciplinary actions for any student in the pictures includes suspension or expulsion.