Zeroing in on groundhogs plaguing levees


VINCENNES, Ind. (WTHI) – The Vincennes Water Utility has zeroed in on the rodents plaguing the Wabash River levees.

Officials report these groundhogs can cause serious damage so they are setting up traps to catch them. These traps will pose no threats to humans or other animals. The city contracted CRNAC, a pest control company, to eradicate the animals. According to state statute, the groundhog is classified as a threat to levee systems.

“They’re classified as a nuisance animal in state and federal law,” said Hunter Pinnell, Levee Superintendent, Vincennes Water Utilities. Pinnell stated the city already had a nuisance control program for the levee, but was ‘lax’ enforcing the code.

Pinnell explained that the groundhogs burrow into the side of the levee wall. The wall, which is made of a clay mixture, can weaken if flood waters get into burrows.

“If it kept going and the groundhog population keeps expanding, then it could cause problems and weaken the levee,” said Pinnell.

As part of a reconnaissance practice, staffers with CRNAC surveyed the levee wall and areas surrounding the levee wall. Groundhog holes were reported along the levee wall as well as a potential breeding site at the grounds of the George Rogers Clark Memorial and The Indiana Military Museum.

“I would say upward of 150 groundhog holes, and we’re not sure how many groundhogs are in those, and there’s probably quite a few, there may even be as many as one per hole,” he added, “When the ground hogs will bore through a levee, they will let water flow through a levee, that shouldn’t be there and it can eat away at the inside of the levee and can bring material up and cause the levee to fail from the inside.”

City staffers noted the traps are made to only capture animals with burrow style nests and that pets would likely not become victims of the traps. The traps, according to Pinnell, catch the animal alive; a pest control staffers removes the animal to an offsite location and euthanizes it.

“It’s a misdemeanor I understand under Indiana for someone to disturb these traps, to move them, or to take them away from the sites,” said Pinnell.

This effort is expected to cost $12,000.

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