Adjutant General asks for money to cull groundhogs at Concord site

Published: 03/22/2022 18:12:04

Modified: 03/22/2022 18:11:10

Groundhogs, long the nemesis of gardeners, have also become a problem for the military and some of Concord’s Karner blue butterflies.

The Department of Military Affairs and Veterans Services is seeking Executive Council approval to use $2,485 in federal funds to initiate a groundhog “control program” at its Concord site. And control does not mean outsourcing.

In his request to the council, Adjutant General David Mikolaities said marmots eat wild lupine, a main food source for endangered Karner’s blue butterflies, and the larvae they leave on the plant.

“It’s like cotton candy to them,” said department spokesman Lt. Col. Gregory Heilshorn.

Responsibility for restoring Karner’s blues habitat rests with the department. Sending the marmots, which have built at least 23 dens on about 15 acres, was not his first choice.

Heilshorn said they started with garlic and coyote urine — with marginal success. Trapping and relocating were next, but the traps also caught opossums and skunks. Help from predators, such as coyotes, is not an option because the dens are behind a fence.

The groundhogs will be caught in traps, which are deadly, Heilshorn said, and disposed of.

“This is the first time we’ve used this type of control because the problem has just become exponentially bigger,” he said. “Apart from endangering the Karner’s Blue Moths, they do not affect the day-to-day operations of the guard. If it weren’t for the lupine, which is the habitat of the Karner’s Blue Moth, we wouldn’t be pursuing not that.

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