Death stalks Prospect Park again as a dead possum is found

The Grim Reaper has plied his deadly trade by the lake in Prospect Park yet again this week, leaving in his wake a dead raccoon, a possum and several gosling — whose corpses all showed up on the same day that we reported that the federal government had given Prospect Park an environmental award!

Since late March, park-goers have found severed chicken heads, animal guts and the decomposed remains of fish, turtles and possums among eight scorched patches of weeds that regular park goers believe are set by vandals.

Park officials say they are concerned about garbage and animal dumping near the lake, but emphasize that animals often die from natural causes.

“Has anything about the Park’s environment truly changed in the last year? All the experts all say no,” said Prospect Park Alliance spokesman Patron.

Local bird-watchers agree.

“The Prospect Park lake is in very good condition and the water is in no way dangerous,” said Glenn Phillips, the executive director of NYC Audubon. “It’s not a pristine Adirondack mountain lake, but it’s never going to be.

“Deaths at the park are common, Phillips added. “It’s heartbreaking, but it’s the nature of things.”

It’s certainly been the nature of Prospect Park this summer. Before this week’s body count, a dead dog was found floating in the lake. And last month, John Boy, one of the lake’s beloved swans, also died, though park officials maintain that she was the victim of swan-on-swan violence.

The lake’s death toll grew so large so fast that area wildlife activists pushed the city to check the waters for toxins — but tests conducted by the Department of Environmental Protection and an independent team from Brooklyn College cleared the lake itself of any wrongdoing.

Parks Department officials promised to conduct necropsies on any animals found dead in the lake, but have said in the last two cases that the animals were too badly decomposed.

Still, the grisly discoveries at the man-made oasis do frighten some parkgoers.

“Mammals are dying in the lake,” claimed Ed Bahlman, a layman who watched as Parks Department employees removed the raccoon from its watery grave. The second corpse, a furry four legged creature that’s believed to be a possum, was pulled out of the lake by the Boathouse, just paces away from where a young couple rested out on a blanket, taking in some sun. The gosling — baby geese, if you will — was found near the other side of the lake.

Then there’s all the trash. When we took a leisurely stroll of the lake Wednesday morning, we found a discarded vodka bottle bobbing near a basking turtle. There was also a host of empty bottles, potato chip bags, candy wrappers and submerged garbage cans and orange traffic cones lining the lake.

It wasn’t a pretty scene.

“This is sad,” said surprised sun worshipper Salem McVoy. “Especially with so many kids playing around here.”

Patron promised action — and soon.

“We’ll get to work on the garbage,” he said. “But the Park’s ecosystem is not dangerous, damaged or unhealthy.”