'It kept hissing at me': An uneasy encounter with an injured groundhog

News-DemocratAugust 3, 2013 

As I headed to work the other day, an injured groundhog lunged at me from under my car.

Scared the daylights out of me, by the way.

After I looked closely, I could tell it was a young groundhog and it couldn't move its back legs. Must have been hit while crossing the road.

That's not unusual. There are groundhogs all over the place in Belleville.

I was faced with a dilemma. What to do with this animal?

I didn't know how badly it was injured, but it was apparent it couldn't move very quickly or use its back legs.

It was terrifically mad, however. It kept hissing at me. I could understand that. That would tick me off, too.

I felt sorry for it. Even if it eats my wife's tomatoes, it is a living creature and I didn't want it to suffer. I also didn't want it crawling around where the neighborhood kids might chance onto it or some stray dog or animal might torment it.

I called the county animal services people who unfortunately couldn't help since I was in the city of Belleville. A nice lady did caution me about getting bitten.

I called the city and someone there told me they couldn't handle it because they don't have a wildlife license. They do have some traps that people can use to capture nuisance wildlife. Then it is up to the trapper to transport the animal somewhere and safely release it.

Luckily the city did refer me to a woman who does wildlife rescues, one of several people they use to handle such situations.

Now I was on familiar ground. It was Sandie Konopelski of Shiloh, a certified wildlife rehabber who I met when she saved the injured goose at Bellevue Park in Belleville.

By the way, that goose is alive and doing well at Treehouse Wildlife Center although its leg is too severely injured for it ever to live in the wild again.

Konopelski came by and picked up the groundhog and checked him over. It turned out he was too massively injured to rehabilitate and he had to be put down.

Sad, but at least he didn't suffer anymore.

Have a column idea? Call Wally at 239-2506 or 800-642-3878; or email: wspiers@bnd.com

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