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Groundhog Sightings on the Rise in Oxford


Tomorrow morning, Punxsutawney Phil will come out of hiding to let the world know whether or not we will have winter for six more weeks. The tradition has taken place annually for over 100 years and always attracts a crowd to the quaint Pennsylvania town. Unfortunately for Oxford residents, their experiences with groundhogs haven’t been as pleasant as the townspeople of Punxsutawney or Bill Murray.

Wildlife Resolution's Mike Merchant
Wildlife Resolution’s Mike Merchant

The critters are known for causing erosion, undermining building foundations, and ruining gardens and landscape. Wildlife Resolution’s Mike Merchant has reported a steady increase in groundhog calls he’s received since 2004.

“When I first came here as a federal wildlife specialist in 2004 they were mostly just in Tupelo,” he said. “They’re real, real plentiful now and have become pretty common.

Groundhogs make their homes at the edges of buildings or around kudzu, where they can find cover to dig their burrows. The animals are typically solitary but can colonize in the spring when the mothers are caring for the young.

groundhog-day-usa“They hibernate in winter time but once spring rolls around you’ll see more of them and sometimes more of them together,” he said. “One hill I found there were 12 in there.”

Oftentimes, they are mistaken for beavers, but their tails are stubby unlike the flat ones exhibited by beavers. They are not typically aggressive but if you corner them, they could enforce a very strong bite.

If you see a groundhog or a groundhog burrow at your home, call a specialist such as Merchant. If you approach them they may retreat into their holes and dig 20 or more feet deep, or they could switch to another hole and cause more damage. Whether Phil sees his shadow or not, be on the lookout for his cousins down South.

Michael Quirk is a HottyToddy.com staff reporter and can be reached at michael.quirk@hottytoddy.com.

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