A reader sent us a photo he snapped of a woodchuck scurrying across a yard in Sagaponack on Monday, and to our surprise this is a not so rare a spotting any more.
Dell Cullum, a trapper and owner of the East Hampton-based Hampton Wildlife Removal & Rescue, said he believes woodchucks have tripled in population in recent years, particularly in Sagaponack and Bridgehampton. Similar to the deer, Cullum said woodchucks are in backyards more because the old potato fields are disappearing at a rapid rate to make way for more McMansions.
Woodchucks — also known as groundhogs, marmots, or Cullum's favorite, "whistle-pigs" — reproduce at large numbers. "They procreate just like rabbits," he said. Their litters average about six, and the minute they leave the den they are independent.
"I got more calls this year than I ever have. I've seen explosion," he said.
Cullum said they rarely do damage to a house, and that they are more of a property nuisance because of holes they make while burrowing — they are smaller than a basketball, usually under low brush.
"They are harmless. They're kind of cute, especially when they are young and they can even be beneficial, aerating the yard. So they are good for plants."