Saturday, December 3, 2016

Local Possum Believed Responsible For Destroying Alpaca Sweater

By Marlin Gault, staff writer


A Canoga Park possum, suspected to be P-4589 — one of roughly 4,800 possums tracked by the Canoga Park Department of Wildlife & Vermin — is the prime suspect in the rending of an alpaca sweater accidentally left outside overnight by a Glade Avenue resident.

Devastated by loss of sweater, Berta
Dorchek demands justice. Staff photo.
“I was carrying in groceries the other night and I had to juggle those stupid reusable bags from one arm to the other [while] trying to get my house key out of my purse and that's when I must have put it down on the patio table outside the back door,” says Berta Dorchek of the garment. “The next morning when I was going to work, there it was, all chewed to hell. It’s ruined.”

Known as nature's garbage disposals, possums are generally peaceful creatures and are revered in Canoga Park for their habit of eating the area's abundant feral cat feces. They are not known for destroying clothing.

“The described behavior [of tearing apart fabric] is more along the lines of what we’d see with a squirrel or a rat gathering material for a nest,” says Pierce College Winnetka professor of possumology and possumography, Dr. Morris Detzer. “I probably wouldn’t blame a possum for this.”

But Dorchek, a traffic violations proof-of-completions clerk at the Chatsworth Municipal Building, insists it was a possum, and adds that she may have inadvertently laid the sweater over a street taco that she’d just purchased “but was going to throw out because it smelled funny.” 

A familiar sight to locals who benefit from his feline coprophagia, P-4589 finds himself at the
center of a controversy due to a shredded alpaca fleece sweater like the one shown. File photos.
“Oh, food was involved? That changes everything,” concedes Detzer when notified of the additional information. “Yep, that was a possum then, trying to get to that taco. Probably ol’ P-4589, too — that little dickens just loves rancid meat.”

Dr. Morris Detzer.
Photo: Mimi Detzer.
Biologists believe P-4589 is one of just 2,467 breeding-age male possums in the area and that Canoga Park’s fragile ecosystem depend on the nocturnal, creepy-looking mammals. “If we want to continue to enjoy the privilege of littering and throwing trash on the street, and not constantly stepping in cat shit, we do need these creatures,” Detzer says.

Dorchek, however, has other concerns.

“I’m really pissed. I got that sweater in that Peruvian imports store in the Stratosphere in Vegas this summer,” she says. “It cost me $85 and I was excited to finally be able to wear it now that it’s chilly at night. That possum needs to pay — with its life.”

According to experts, it would be days before the local possum population, or possulation, would recover from the culling of the creature, but as hunting is not allowed within Canoga Park — with gunfire strictly limited to approved gang violence and celebratory discharging of firearms into the air on holidays — P-4589’s future seems safe for the time being.

Note: This is a developing story and the Canoga Park Quilt will update as more information and/or feral cat feces becomes available.

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