Citizen complaint of the day: An impossumible situation on Northampton Street

A concerned citizen refuses to play dead:

229 Northampton is attracting possums. Possums! They put food out for them (or maybe cats, but the possums have chased the cats off) on the front steps. I spotted a possum munching on the cat food last night at 7 pm, like a haunted buffet. This is gross. The possum gave me one of those looks like "oh, hey, what, are you gonna report me?" Yes I am.

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    Possum vs. Opossum

    Someone else tried to pick this exceedingly small nit in another thread recently. However, American opossums have been colloquially called "possum" for nearly as long as they've been formally called "opossum." For example, the phrase "playing possum" (not "playing opossum") goes back to at least the 1840s.

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    Oops

    that's who I meant - (sorry Matthew) but since he hasn't weighed in I'm guessing that somehow his emergency alerts aren't set to posts that include bikes and (o)possums :-)

    Must be my Catholic upbringing - I tend to blur together anyone named Matthew Mark Luke and John.

    What?

    It's Citizens Connect, it's entire PURPOSE is so people can take a moment of their day to inform the city about small issues that the city may not be aware of, like potholes, illegally parked government vehicles, or yes, even wild animals that are being encouraged to eat off your front porch. It took the user the same amount of time to post about the opossum as it took for you to complain about them complaining. How that does equate to being their "biggest problem"?

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    So tell me

    What is the city going to do to solve this terrible, weighty problem? You don't think a neighborly note saying "hey--there are opossums eating the cat food" wouldn't do the trick--you need the City to make a special trip to Roxbury to address this, stat? And again--this is a problem why exactly? They're not the prettiest animals but they're nocturnal, shy, they do not carry rabies or disease, destroy property, etc--wtf cares if they're getting a cat food snack? Or calls in the city government to "eeek! Quick! Fix this for me!!" I'd rather have them focused on the potholes, thanks.

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    Unless you are inviting them in to watch the Super Bowl...

    on your couch, how on earth would you be affected by potential fleas on a wild animal on your neighbor's porch?

    Honestly--is this like Freedom from Common Sense Day and no one told me? And again, still waiting for someone to explain what some poor city schmuck is going to do to alleviate this dread scourge? Knock on the door of the old lady who's feeding stray cats and tell her to quit it? Camp out with a 22 and take out the little critters?

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    Everyday..

    ...is freedom from common sense day! Having had a fat waddling possum crawl under my stairs looking for munchies, I can say it's kind of disconcerting. I don't want to open the door from my basement and startle one of these things (and myself). It's not like having rabid badgers denning in your patio, but still...the lil bastard's not paying rent, so hit the bricks. As far as what can be done...yes tell old Mrs. O'Goolahooley to stop putting out cat food that assuredly will attract rats and mice along with cats and Pogo's cousins. And what the city's animal officer could do is to set a have-a-hart trap and enter the trespasser into the critter protection program and relocate him to a nice site in Blue Hills or somewhere.

    But no, it's not exactly the end of the world, Skeeter.

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    "Dear Mrs. Goolahooley..."

    I was once startled by a possum on my porch years ago and I will confirm that the sight of a flattened, terrified possum snarling at you is disconcerting--they are bizarre looking creatures. But I have a soft spot for them, I guess (watch the YouTube video of a possum eating a strawberry)--we have a lot of them around here in JP but I often see them hit by cars and so on--they're not speedy animals. Hmm...maybe they've all been relocated here by residents of the lower South End?

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    Uh...

    how on earth would you be affected by potential fleas on a wild animal on your neighbor's porch?

    You DO know how fleas work, right? Animal with fleas hangs out near a cat's food bowl, some fleas remain behind, cat approaches food bowl, fleas get on cat, cat then transfers fleas to any other cats it may come in contact with OR, if it's an indoor/outdoor cat, brings the fleas inside.

    Yes, any cat that's outdoors runs the risk of getting fleas. But alerting the city to presence of opossums making themselves comfortable on people's front porches is a way to help lower that risk. If NO ONE reports opossums eating from cat bowls, the city (and/or animal control) will do nothing about it. If enough people like this person using Citizens Connect report opossums, then the city can say "Oh, this is the Nth number of opossum complaints we've had in that neighborhood in the past month. Let's send someone out."

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    Maybe if enough people had some common sense then

    they would a. Keep their cats inside if they don't want fleas in their house and b. If they really, really, really can't stand the idea of a possum (or raccoon, or skunk, or squirrel) on their neighbor's porch, to leave a note explaining the situation to said neighbor (not that it will make a difference, but whatever you want to believe). Instead you want a city worker to race over to the South End and trap a bunch of harmless, native animals and relocate them to where--Franklin Park? Again, I say--grow up. It's not like Mrs. Gahoolahooley is saving parking spots--she's not going to slash your tires. And outdoor cats will get fleas--they are everywhere, not hanging out by the food bowl. Sheesh.

    Hey Now!

    Old Mrs. O'Goolahooley has been known to wield a pretty nasty box cutter on those who would dare park in the handicapped spot in front of her house where she parks her '74 Dart.

    Actually, the Health Dept.

    Actually, the Health Dept. came over and talked to a neighbor who was throwing food outside for the birds, but was actually feeding a family of rats who were unafraid of the giant birds in the yard. It becomes a health hazard and can cause other problems.

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    Expected city response

    What is the city going to do to solve this terrible, weighty problem?

    I would expect the city to do what it does when you do what the city asks and report rat activity to Citizens Connect: they would send out the city's rat crew (Pedro happens to be the one I know; he has an amazing sense of where to put baits and traps). The rat crew would have a look around, find obvious problems (food out, holes in fences, etc.) and leave notes for property owners. Then they would place bait and traps. Then they would follow up to make sure that the property owners had fixed the problems, and cite them otherwise.

    Umm... was that a trick question?

    Umm...

    So we really need a city worker to take three hours out of his day to come and leave a note for Mrs. O'Goolahooley? Again...these aren't rats (not that the city's solved THAT problem)--they're harmless wild animals that, the last time I checked, were NOT overrunning the South End, biting small children, tipping over trash cans, etc. That this many people on this thread allegedly think that this is some kind of dire emergency that couldn't be solved--if it bothers you SO much) with a friendly note instead of calling Pedro (who surely has better things to do) make my brain freeze. I'm all for big helpful government but this is absurd.

    Shrug.

    It's my impression that opossums eat mice, along with other things, and I suppose that while they are not perhaps as cute as raccoons or skunks, it's not clear to me than any of them need to by driven away just for living close to us. All of them are in JP, not clear that it's the end of the world ...

    I guess.

    They are cute, and like the skunks don't feel reflexively obliged to give their ground (now, kids, let's not corner the critters and see what happens, right?). Nonetheless, I've been on the receiving end of a few glares, even back before I sold my soul, and these guys are too funny-lookin' to really pull it off.