The trouble began the way most trouble with groundhogs tends to begin: with a group of gawking children hoping to get a closer look.
The kids in Bridgeton, N.J., on Saturday were fascinated by the furry groundhog that had been milling about in a parking lot across the street from their Little League field. The groundhog would have none of it, though. He got mad. Really mad. He chased the kids back across the street. And then he got really really mad:
Umpire Brandon Dennis headed off the animal baring its teeth from chasing the children.
It began chasing Dennis.
Bridgeton Little League President T. Carl Hemple intervened to save Dennis.
“Then he started chasing me,’’ said Hemple. “Man, was he big. He must have weighed 20 pounds.’’
The groundhog gained on Hemple, who went to his car, jumped inside and locked the doors.
The animal was undaunted. It established position under the car, perhaps hoping to wait Hemple out before launching a sneak attack. So Hemple started the car, thinking that might scare the animal off. It did. But when the angry beast ran away, it headed straight for the Bridgeton Sports Hall of Fame. Uh oh. Resourcefully, it even found a hole in a fence outside the building. What to do next?
Hemple called the police.
“They were there in two minutes,’’ he said. “They got one of those loops on a stick around its neck.’’
It broke the loop.
“I’m telling you, it was big,’’ said Hemple.
He said the police went and got a cage, relooped the animal and got it inside the cage.
The groundhog was taken to an animal hospital, where it was to be tested for rabies. No one had been bitten. But sometime Saturday night or early Sunday morning, the groundhog escaped; the doctor at the animal hospital said its cage was secure but empty, and that it left behind an empty can of cat food. The groundhog is still on the loose.
Photo credit: Shutterstock/Martin Lehmann