ADF&G: More opossums captured, others still on the loose

The new opossums are most likely the offspring of Grubby, a Virginia possum captured last month

Homer hasn’t seen the last of the possums.

The Homer Police Department announced Friday on Facebook that additional opossums have been spotted around town, a little over a week since Grubby, a Virginia opossum found in Homer, was captured by HPD and transferred to the Alaska Zoo in Anchorage.

One possum, later determined to be a male, was spotted Thursday, June 2 outside the window of the City of Homer Clerk’s Office, according to the city manager’s page on the City of Homer website. The clerks immediately contacted the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, and ADF&G staff were able to successfully collect the opossum, the webpage states.

Two additional possums have been captured since the city hall incident, ADF&G wildlife biologist Jason Herreman told Homer News on Monday. Herreman also said that he’s seen photos of a fourth possum that doesn’t match those already captured, indicating that there are still more in the area.

Authorities are unsure of the current opossum population size in Homer, though Herreman speculated that the new opossums are most likely Grubby’s offspring based on the size of the captured possums and the timing of their appearance. Opossum litter sizes generally range around eight to nine joeys, according to Herreman.

ADF&G are conducting ongoing live-trapping operations around Klondike Avenue, Grubstake Avenue, Bonanza Avenue and Kachemak Way as part of an active effort to remove all opossums from the Homer area.

For the foreseeable future, residents around the above-named areas are urged to keep their cats indoors to avoid having their cat accidentally trapped, according to a Facebook post made Friday, June 2 by the Homer Animal Shelter. In the event that a resident’s pet is caught during the trapping efforts, they will be safely transported to the shelter, the city manager’s webpage states.

Opossums have the potential to negatively impact the local ecosystem by spreading diseases or preying upon and competing with local wildlife. In order to minimize the potential impact on Homer’s environment, local authorities are asking residents to immediately report all opossum sightings to ADF&G by calling 907-235-8191. If a possum is spotted outside of ADF&G office hours, residents should contact HPD at 907-235-3150.

ADF&G is working with the Alaska Zoo to place the opossums after capture. The zoo often coordinates with ADF&G as a temporary holding place for most captured animals, Herreman said. Grubby will remain at the zoo as part of an educational exhibit on invasive species, while her joeys will find permanent homes elsewhere.

One joey has already been placed with a conservation center in Portage, also as part of an educational program, Herreman said.

Herreman reiterated the importance of capturing and removing all opossums from the Homer area. The possums will be safely relocated, and ADF&G and HPD urge Homerites to assist by reporting opossum sightings.

“We really don’t want to get an established population in Homer,” Herreman said.

A Virginia opossum was spotted outside the City of Homer Clerk’s Office window on Thursday, June 1, 2023 in Homer, Alaska. Photo by Renee Krause

A Virginia opossum was spotted outside the City of Homer Clerk’s Office window on Thursday, June 1, 2023 in Homer, Alaska. Photo by Renee Krause