It’s raccoons versus organic waste in Sheepshead Bay!

It’s raccoons versus organic waste in Sheepshead Bay!

Will state-of-the-art composting cans finally help Southern Brooklynites prevail in their eternal war with local raccoons — or merely set them up for ignominious defeat?

Brooklynites living along the borough’s southeastern shores fear their crafty neighborhood raccoons will wreak havoc on the city’s curbside composting program, which is set to roll out in Community Board 15 in June. The environmentally friendly program may be a win for free-range hipster neighborhoods like Williamsburg and Park Slope, but Sheepshead Bay’s raccoons are known for being notoriously dexterous — and that’s not to mention the verdant area’s other wildlife — said one board member during a meeting with the Department of Sanitation on April 25.

“If anyone has ever had an encounter with a raccoon, they are very adept at opening things. And at this end of Brooklyn, because of the Jamaica Bay, we not only had an influx of racoons — we’ve got possums out there,” said Ed Jaworski, who is also the president of Madison-Marine-Homecrest Civic Association. “I’ve never seen a possum open a can, but we’ve got possums, raccoons, rats.”

But the Department of Sanitation wants everyone to rest assured — these waste receptacles are specially designed to be raccoon-proof. The brown plastic bins are purpose-built to withstand all non-human species to protect all the organic material inside, said the department’s senior manager for organics outreach, who reported to the board about the program.

“Raccoons don’t have opposable thumbs, which is why they can’t open things like this,” said Andrew Hoyles as he demonstrated the latch. “That’s why you have to actually have a thumb to put pressure down here and then have fingers to pull that to be able to open it up.”

Collecting all waste!: The city is rolling out its curbside composting program in Community Board 15 this June.
NYC Department of Sanitation

One wary Manhattan Beach resident said he’s willing to take a chance on tossing his organic waste in the bin — including fruits and vegetables, spoiled food, food-soiled paper, yard trimmings, and plants — but he worries that his scepticism could be proven right and he may come home to a posse of raccoons enjoying his leftovers.

“We’re going to try it and see how that plays out. They claim that it’s raccoon-proof, but I don’t know. I’m not sure about that,” said board member and president of the Manhattan Beach Neighborhood Association Al Smaldone. “We’ll find out as soon as we start using it.”

But some locals are as excited about composting as their neighbors are fearful, and they can’t wait to get the bin, according to board member Shari Kaplan.

“Great, I’m ready for it,” she said.

Raccoon-proof: Southern Brooklynites fear these bins will be an easy match for pesky rodents looking for a bite of food.
Photo by Josephine Beckmann

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.

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