Neighbors First for Bywater – February 1, 2023 General Meeting

 Held at Luna Libre. After some time to socialize and eat pizza, Julie introduced three representatives from the NOPD, including the new captain of the 5th district, Kevin Stamp.

Lt. Palumbo gave us an update and told us that car thefts are the biggest problem in Bywater right now. Residents that own a Kias or Hyundais can get a free steering wheel lock from the 5th district station, as those makes are the most popular with thieves. He advised that if residents locate a stolen vehicle to not approach, because the thieves are most certainly armed. He also reminded everyone to never leave a firearm in an unattended vehicle.

Julie then introduced Michael Birt, a wildlife removal and relocation expert who recently wrote a children’s book about his work called Michael the Wildlife Detective. Mr. Birt specializes in humane removal of possums, raccoons, squirrels, bats and birds. His company, Lacan 360, also helps homeowners deal with rats, mice, termites, and any other uninvited critters, even coyotes. He spoke about possums the most, since that’s what we see the most in Bywater. Possums are marsupials and have the smallest brain of any mammal for their size. They’ll eat pretty much anything, and their prehensile tails help them climb into tricky spots. They love the space between the wall and the bathtub, which they can usually access easily from under a house. They do not carry rabies, as their body temperature is too low, but they can bring in fleas and cause other issues. When startled they can act really nasty, and make an awful smell, but if approached they just “play possum”. When they need to relocate an animal they usually drive it to a natural area far away, preferably across the river from where they were caught. Mr. Birt also started a non-profit called ResearchWild that aims to educate people around the world about living in proximity to wildlife. Cities keep growing and people continue to build homes in rural areas, and the animals were most certainly living in those areas first. He decided to write a children’s book because he feels kids are likely to be the most open minded about new approaches to human cohabitation with wildlife. He brought copies of his book and signed a few for members.

Lastly, we were introduced to Julia Stern, the city’s new neighborhood liaison for district C. She has office hours at Alvar Library Mondays and Tuesdays from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., with a lunch break from 1-2. She is at Stallings on Wednesdays for the same hours. Her email is and office phone number is (504) 397-4100. 

Submitted by Tyler Harwood, NFB secretary

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