I'm sorry-not-sorry for bringing you more opossum content. It's not my fault they've been so newsworthy lately! Today, I'm sharing news about Grubby, an opossum who found its way to Homer, Alaska on a shipping container from Washington state, who is causing quite a stir in town. Megan Pacer, a reporter at Alaska Daily News who first broke the news about Grubby, explains that:
The critter arrived about two weeks ago, stowed away in a shipping container from Washington state that was bound for Spenard Builders Supply in Homer, according to Jillian Rogers, director of the city's animal shelter. Spenard Builders Supply workers called the shelter when they discovered the opossum in the back of the container on March 30, she said Friday.
A shelter staff member called the state Department of Fish and Game for advice. Jason Herreman, assistant area biologist for the Kenai Peninsula, advised the shelter to set out traps to capture the opossum. Not only are the marsupials invasive to Alaska, they're not legal to own as pets, Herreman said.
Grubby was captured, but then escaped, and has since become famous in Homer. Again, Megan Pacer of Alaska Daily News:
More than 30 posts about the critter were circulating on a local Facebook page, Homer Communications, by Friday evening. They ranged from lighthearted jokes, photos and memes to public service announcements about the dangers of invasive species, and the hashtag #FreeGrubby appeared more than once. The opossum has been christened "Grubby" by locals since one of the last places it was spotted was near the police department, on Grubstake Avenue, Rogers said.
Folks in Homer are divided over what to do about Grubby. Some locals are rallying around Grubby, while others take the stance that opossums are an invasive species and could cause a lot of harm to Alaskan flora and fauna. Megan Pace, in an interview with Alaska Public Radio, explains that authorities like Alaska Fish and Game and seeking to exterminate Grubby because of this issue. Pace states:
With any invasive species, there is a serious connotation with that. They don't want non-native plants or animals to be messing with native flora and fauna in Alaska. So some of the specific concerns Fish and Game shared with me were that possums could potentially be preying on local birds, native birds to the Homer area. You know, if it was a female opossum that happened to be carrying babies at the time, you know, I was told the last thing we want to do is start a population, because that could grow and really kind of start to wreak havoc. And another big concern was that opossums could spread diseases to local wildlife.
Home Animal Shelter shared similar concerns in a post about the situation on their Facebook page, on April 13:
There is an opossum in town. It came up in a shipping container. Fish and Game are aware, and yes, if caught it will be put down. That decision is not ours. Not even a little bit. It is an invasive species, and ADFG's job is to protect local flora and fauna from such uninvited guests.
I feel terrible for Grubby, so many miles away from home, in a cold climate, all alone. I really hope Grubby's going to be ok, somehow, against all odds.