A possum being hit in the face so hard it flew through the air is "absolutely disgusting", a South Canterbury mayor has said, after footage surfaced on social media.
Warning: Video contains graphic content
Animal welfare groups are outraged after the footage of the punch was released on social media.
The possum was sitting on a fence post on a farm in Waimate when a man got out of his car at night, approached the stunned possum, and hit it hard in the face.
The incident was filmed and the video uploaded to Facebook.
SPCA and Paw Justice said while possums were pests, the act was one of deliberate animal cruelty.
Waimate District mayor Craig Rowley agreed and said the incident was "absolutely disgusting".
"Yes, they are a pest, but there are humane ways of dealing with our pest problem down this way."
He said it was not achieving anything
"It's not as though they're trying to humanely dispatch a possum, it's obviously just a lark, and I certainly wouldn't condone that type of behaviour to any kind of animal, whether they're a pest or any kind of animal."
Mr Rowley said there was a possum problem, with some farms having a serious issue, but wallabies were a bigger pest in his region.