Visitors to the Hammel Woods Dog Park never expected to see an opossum with its head stuck in a pavilion post when they arrived for some playtime on the morning of Wednesday, February 14.
But that’s exactly what they observed as the inquisitive critter wiggled its butt in frustration at being trapped. Richard Moravek of Joliet called Forest Preserve headquarters to report the odd opossum occurrence.
"My dog smelled it right away," Moravek said of his border collie, Chloe. "She's the sniffer. So we kept the other dogs away, and we knew it was some kind of animal that was stuck. Then I saw the tail and I knew it was an opossum."
Moravek said he stayed around to make sure the opossum didn't free itself and bite a dog. "Their teeth are like sawblades," he said of the sharp-toothed marsupials.
Forest Preserve police Officer Mike Reilly arrived at the scene shortly after the call. Reilly, a master patrol officer who has been on the Forest Preserve force for more than six years, spent several minutes pulling the opossum and using his police stick to loosen the area where the mammal had wedged its head.
“I spun him around so I could get his tail and kind of wiggled him out of the pipe,” Reilly said.
Reilly carried the rescued creature out of the dog park to an open area in Hammel Woods – DuPage River Access, and set the animal down.
“He played possum,” Reilly said. “He laid down as if he were dead. That’s what they do. But I think he’s doing OK.”
The rescue occurred around 11:30 a.m. much to the delight of onlookers.
“It was great,” said Marzena Wodziak of Plainfield, who visits the dog park every day with her hound, Loki. “I thought it (the opossum) was dead.”
Wodziak said when she arrived at the dog park someone told her about the opossum and said, “Don’t let your dog eat it or chew on it.”
Wodziak was perplexed about why the opossum would stick its head in a post hole “of all the places he could have gone …,” she said.
The opening in the post base was patched with duct tape and a permanent fix is in the works. As for the opossum? He’s probably “headed” to other adventures.
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