Wildlife officials seek help as additional invasive opossums are discovered in Homer

Wildlife authorities in Homer are asking for the public’s help after additional opossums were discovered in the Kenai Peninsula town — presenting the threat that a population of the invasive species could establish itself there.

The latest development comes after what was believed to be a lone opossum arrived in Homer in late March in a shipping container that had come from Washington state. The marsupial’s arrival spurred immediate interest and excitement, with residents of Homer divided on what should be done with it. The animal was christened “Grubby” because it was spotted on Homer’s Grubstake Avenue, and locals circulated the hashtag #FreeGrubby online.

When the opossum was captured last week, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game discovered it was a female. Grubby was taken in by the Alaska Zoo in Anchorage.

Good morning from Grubby! She saw the veterinarian yesterday for a goopy eye and has decided to allow a few hissing-free...

Posted by The Alaska Zoo on Saturday, May 27, 2023

Now, additional opossums have surfaced in Homer — one was captured Thursday and a second was spotted Friday on Klondike Avenue, according to Jason Herreman, assistant area biologist for the Kenai Peninsula. That’s not far from where the original marsupial was first seen on Grubstake Avenue.

Fish and Game’s working hypothesis is that the additional animals are offspring of the original opossum, “based on the size of the one that we’ve caught” and the time frame between when Grubby arrived and the discovery of the new opossums, Herreman said.

“Unfortunately it appears there were some young that came to town as well,” he said.

Young opossums, or joeys, are only dependent on their mothers for about two months, Herreman said, which lines up with the amount of time Grubby was loose in Homer before being captured.


Fish and Game is actively searching for the opossums, with the goal of removing them from the environment, Herreman said. Opossums are not native to Alaska and are considered invasive. The risks to local flora and fauna range from diseases — which Herreman said can threaten humans as well — to predation of and competition with local animals. Opossums are particularly hard on bird populations and small mammals, he said.

Herreman said there are some options to place the young opossums at facilities out of state. Fish and Game won’t be placing any more opossums at the Alaska Zoo permanently, but they will likely be housed there before being sent elsewhere, he said.

Anyone who sees an opossum in Homer is encouraged to call Fish and Game at 907-235-8191 during business hours. Herreman said that outside of business hours, people should call the Homer Police Department at 907-235-3150.

“I would ask folks to please give us a call if they see them,” Herreman said. “We’re actively pursuing these animals, we don’t want to get a population established in Alaska because of the issues with disease and competition with our native fauna.”

Megan Pacer

Megan Pacer is a digital audience producer at the Anchorage Daily News. A 2015 graduate of Central Michigan University, she's previously worked as a reporter for the Peninsula Clarion in Kenai and the Homer News, and as a digital producer for Alaska's News Source in Anchorage. Contact her at mpacer@adn.com.