Mouse-eating opossums run amok in Brooklyn
By HEATHER HADDON
Last Updated: 7:07 AM, September 19, 2010
Posted: 1:33 AM, September 19, 2010
The city played possum — and Brooklyn residents lost.
In a bizarre attempt to outwit Mother Nature, city officials introduced beady-eyed opossums in Brooklyn years ago to scarf down rats running amok in the borough, according to local officials.
Surprise: Operation opossum didn’t work.
Not only do wily rats continue to thrive, but the opossums have become their own epidemic, with bands of the conniving creatures sauntering through yards, plundering garbage cans and noshing on fruit trees.
They’ve even taken up golf, with two sightings of the whiskered marsupials at the Dyker Heights municipal course in the past week, local officials said.
“They are everywhere,” said Theresa Scavo, chairwoman for Community Board 15, which represents Sheepshead Bay and surrounding south Brooklyn neighborhoods.
“Didn’t any of those brain surgeons realize that the opossums were going to multiply?”
A city Sanitation spokeswoman said they were not involved with the Brooklyn opossum drop, and the Health Department didn’t have any record of it. But Scavo and two city councilmen said city officials spoke about the effort at a 2007 Brooklyn forum.
“City brought possums in to take care of rats,” read Community Board 15 notes from the meeting.
The opossums were set free in local parks and underneath the Coney Island boardwalk, with the theory being they would die off once the rats were gobbled up, said Councilman Domenic Recchia (D-Brooklyn).
Instead, the critters have been populating, spreading to Park Slope and Manhattan.
“The population has boomed in recent years,” said Josephine Beckmann, district manager for Community Board 10, which represents Bay Ridge. “They climb up in the tree and have a good meal.”
The critters have a mouth full of 50 sharp teeth, tend to exude a foul odor, and can occasionally contract rabies, said Stuart Mitchell, an entomologist.
They are nocturnal, and some Brooklynites have become terrified to go into their yards at night.