Thursday, February 20, 2014

The last of the famous Bow Narrows woodchucks

Gully and Sam, both carrot eaters
Cole treated Gully just like a puppy
The cool sidewalk felt good to a napping Gully after stuffing down carrots
Woodchucks don't eat grass but select plants like white clover and dandelions
For 50 years we had tame woodchucks at Bow Narrows Camp that lived under the cabins and in holes along the water's edge.
They liked to eat bread and would take it right from your hand. Each generation got tamer and tamer.
In that time we must have had a hundred different woodchucks and nearly 20,000 people come and go, virtually all of them feeding the 'chucks, taking their pictures, getting them to sit on their laps and petting them.
Not one person was ever bit, nor did anybody ever step in their holes and break their legs! I mention this because that is the hogwash you hear people say about woodchucks, especially the part about stepping in their holes. What a load of malarkey! Anyone who says such things doesn't know a woodchuck from a wood buffalo!
Woodchucks were the cleanest, neatest animals imaginable. I wish they still were around camp but alas, the population ended up drowning in a catastrophically wet summer about five years ago. We had such torrential downpours, day after day, that the water poured into their holes. Woodchucks actually have a plan for just such a contingency. They make their underground tunnels go upward before reaching their den. This creates a "trap" like the one under the sink, where water collects, leaving the den dry. But it couldn't save them when the rain kept coming, almost every day, for about six weeks.
One mother dragged her little ones out through the water and left them exposed on the surface before she died. Our daughter-in-law bottle-fed two of these and raised them to adulthood. One of them became incredibly tame and was adopted by our chocolate Lab, Sam, and our cook's border collie, Cole.
It was an astonishing thing to see the little woodchuck, nicknamed Gully, playing, eating and sleeping with the big dogs.
Woodchucks are strictly vegetarians and besides bread, liked to eat carrots. So did Sam but he was polite; he wouldn't take the carrot away from the little guy. However, if Gully dropped the carrot, that was a different matter entirely!
We still see the occasional woodchuck feeding on the clover and dandelions in the yard but these ones are totally wild and are extremely skittish. Still, if you do see one this summer, toss it a slice of bread or leave it next to its hole. You may start the next generation of tame woodchucks.
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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

These woodchucks would actually climb up your leg to get a juicy carrot. I wondered what became of them. Perhaps one day, like you said, a new generation of tame woodchucks will again grace the grasses of Bow Narrows.
Dave M.