Jordan A. Sprogis
Due to the recent damage by woodchucks in Center Cemetery, New Milford is conducting an unusual organized hunt to control its population.
The Center Cemetery is privately owned and has stones dating to 1719. The woodchucks’ population has raised concern after they began to dig under the foundation of the headstones, causing them to topple over.
“There are several locations where woodchucks have dug under the foundations of headstones,” said Mike Sennello, cemetery superintendent. “The older stones don’t have the cement base under them, and they are being toppled. One stone that dates back 100 years has been reset several times.”
The cemetery was closed Tuesday, Sept. 22, and will be closed Wednesday the 23rd, Thursday the 24th, and Friday the 25th at 4:00 p.m to continue the hunt.
A professonal hunter will be on grounds at these times with a .22-caliber rifle and crossbow.
Christopher Vann, a wildlife biologist with the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, says that somebody would have to have a lot of skill to target the animal and doubts the method.
“You’d have to be very skilled and have a very accurate crossbow and be patient,” Vann said. “They’re very intelligent animals, and if they see a movement, they’ll go into their burrows and stay there for three hours.”