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““the Virginia opossum isn’t native to the West—so sea otters would have had no contact with them historically,” says Burgess. The animal was introduced to western states during the Great Depression, perhaps as a food source”
William Rubottom ran a stage coach stop that is now Rancho Cucamonga, CA’s “Sycamore Inn.” He was from Arkansas and wanted to “give” these California hicks some real Arkansas culture. He first imported slaves–since California is a “free” state, they ran off. He next went home to return with opossums because the only other great Arkansas pasttime he could think of was 'possum hunting. Check the Sycamore Inn website.
That confirms info that I heard some time ago. In Boonville, Mendocino Calif there was a large influx of “Arkie” immigrants working in the timber industry. Legend is that they also brought opossums there. Also of interest is that they developed a unique language "Boontling "so to gossip among themselves.