Experts: Marine Park ‘possums are awsome!

Neighborhod creatures: There have been many opossum sightings in Marine Park lately. Wildlife experts say the furry animals are actually beneficial to the community.
Gina Cinalli

Hold off on calling pest control!

The opossums that Marine Parkers constantly complain on social media about are actually good for the environment — and humans, too — according to wildlife experts. The furry creatures gobble up Lyme disease-carrying ticks that would otherwise sicken people, not to mention food scraps, dead animals, and more, said one local animal advocate.

“They’re a walking a sanitation department,” said Wild Bird Fund director Rita McMahon.

Marine Park social media has been abuzz with people reporting regular raccoon and opossum sightings since April. Raccoons sometimes attack humans and are prone to rabies, but neither is the case with opossums, according to McMahon, whose organization mainly takes in birds, but also other animals, including opossums.

“They look dangerous cause they bare teeth, but they’re honestly very docile,” she said. “They want to get away from people. They don’t want to confront.”

In addition to fighting Lyme disease, opossums are beneficial to semi-urban communities such as Marine Park because they devour other unwanted things on the ground.

“They also eat garden slugs and roaches, and pick up scraps of food,” said McMahon.

Some people in and around Marine Park support the animals’ presence in the neighborhood, and agree that don’t pose a threat. One native Bergen Beacher who now lives in wilds of New Jersey said living in the country inspired him to speak out about the marsupials roaming his old stomping grounds.

“I want to get people to stop hating other life forms,” said Anthony Lodespoto. “They’re harmless, if not scared. That’s it.”

One Marine Parker said all the chatter on Facebook about opossums’ lack of rabies and anti-Lyme disease bonafides has made her change her tune on the animals.

“I don’t think they’re so gross anymore,” said Gina Cinalli. “But I think the babies are cuter than the mommies.”

Reach reporter Adam Lucente at alucente@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow him on Twitter @Adam_Lucente.

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