You and many of your readers are aware, through a feature story, about the ongoing study my husband and I are taking part in of the woodchucks on our property since 2003.
It was my impression that one of the offspring of 'Mama Wilhelmina' and 'Papa Gregory' born in 2006 had special status. We named her 'Gretchen Whiteface.' My impression of her status has since been confirmed with continued filming of Whiteface with her mother and father in 2007 and her continued presence this year.
Whiteface gave birth to her own chucklings this year and we looked forward to documenting her life story through film and observation. She gave us no problems and, like other chucks, enjoyed the dandelions, clover and other abundant natural growth found on our property.
Changes in Whiteface's behavior prompted enlarged review of films produced over the past few months which revealed visible wounds of questionable origin. Her condition deteriorated. My last film of her was taken on October 30.
Without further sightings, we decided to excavate the single entrance burrow dug last year and into which she had last been filmed entering. We exhumed her body and found a round wound, likely a result of a 22 caliber gunshot, on her left hind quarter with another wound and abcess on her right leg and foot. This, too, was documented on film.
Our property is a posted 'No Hunting' property. We are not opposed to ethical hunting. We are, however, strongly opposed to people who shoot, wound and leave animals to suffer an agonizing death.
Editor's note: The story about the Sams' woodchuck observation project was featured on the Lifestyles page of the April 30, 2008 issue. Visit www.tricitytimes-online.com and click on the archives for story, photos.