It seemed like a plan just sinister enough to work: ship in a bunch of rat-eating opossums to combat Brooklyn's rodent problem. But as opposed to doing their job and dying off as city officials had planned, the opossums proved to be poor rat-killers, preferring instead to settle down in buildings and neighborhood parks. Now community leaders are fed up with the marauding animals rummaging through trashcans, hanging out in yards, and feeding themselves from local fruit trees. Oh, and the rats are still there, too.According to the New York Post, the opossum problem stems from a decision made a few years back by the Brooklyn Community Board to introduce the rat-predators to help mitigate the borough's rodent infestation -- but their foresight was a little cloudy, evidently. One chairwoman on the Board 15, Theresa Scavo, rues the long-term results of the opossum plan:
They are everywhere. Didn't any of those brain surgeons realize that the opossums were going to multiply?
To make matters worse, it seems that the opossums did little to reduce the city's rat population anyways. The nocturnal animals instead seem to prefer eating trash and fruit from trees. "The population has boomed in recent years," Josephine Beckmann, another Community Board member, told the Post. "They climb up in the tree and have a good meal."
The unintended consequences being felt from Brooklyn's plan to curb the rat problem is in no way without precedent. There are a number of places throughout the world facing similar situations in which animals that were introduced to combat an invasive species led to a whole new problem.
There's no telling just what the Community Board will think up what next to combat the growing opossum problem -- but I'm sure Brooklyn residents would prefer a cuter, less foul-smelling solution than the one they were handed the last time around.