By Land Protection Specialist Susan Crane
A few weeks ago, I was pleasantly surprised when a new creature took up residence in my backyard – a woodchuck
! Every morning, I observed him with rapt curiosity, as he patiently nibbled his way across the crabgrass and clover. He moved on to the flower garden, where a patch of black-eyed susans has been reduced to a few woody stems. I continued to admire this funny, solitary creature even after he discovered our vegetable garden, acquiring a particular taste for the yellow squash we had been tending to all summer. Predictably, he would retreat to his den under the porch for a few hours to avoid the mid-day sun, then reappear late in the afternoon for another round of foraging.
Then the heat wave set in, and the woodchuck vanished. At first I assumed he was happily ensconced in his burrow, cooled by the deep moist soil and sheltered from the relentless sun. I kept waiting for his return.
But then a few nights ago, I saw something lying in the road near my house - a motionless woodchuck that had met its ultimate fate with a car. I slowed to a near stop, training my headlights on the poor thing. It looked an awful lot like my woodchuck.
I keep waiting for my woodchuck to reappear, hoping it is still safe and sound. I have left some squash blossoms for him next to the entrance to his hole, and maybe I’ll plant some more black-eyed susans for him in the garden near his den.
P.S. Soon after completion of this article, Susan happily reported that her woodchuck was back, arriving at dusk on her lawn.