Wayward opossum sparks controversy

A Virginia opossum has infiltrated Homer, as well as Homer community members’ hearts.

Since christened “Grubby” by locals, as it was most recently reported being spotted near the Homer police station on Grubstake Avenue, the possum apparently caught a ride into town on a shipping container traveling from Washington state to Spenard Builders Supply in Homer, according to an April 15 Anchorage Daily News article by former Homer News reporter, Megan Pacer. SBS called the Homer Animal Shelter when they discovered the opossum in the back of the container on March 30, ADN reported.

Grubby’s presence in town has instigated numerous social media posts by local residents and businesses, including the Homer Animal Shelter and Homer Police Department, as well as marketing campaigns and messages of concern over the possum’s fate should it eventually be caught.

Possums are considered an invasive species, and Alaska is not included in their natural habitat range, according to a Facebook post by the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge.

The biggest concern with Grubby’s presence is potential for negative impact on local birds and wildlife, including the introduction of diseases and parasites, the disruption of local food webs, and a “cascade” of other problems, according to AMNWR’s Facebook post. The Homer Animal Shelter, Homer Police Department, and Alaska Department of Fish and Game are aware of the “possum on the loose,” but ultimately, Grubby will fall under Fish and Game’s purview, according to ADN’s report.

Many Homerites hope that Grubby can be safely captured and relocated, ADN reported. However, Jason Herreman, assistant area biologist for the Kenai Peninsula, stated that the “best-case scenario is that the animal is found and trapped so Fish and Game can dispose of it, or that it dies on its own,” ADN reported.

If you see a possum in Homer, please call the Invasive Species Hotline at 1-877-INVASIV (1-877-468-2748) or report online at https://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=invasivespeciesreporter.main.