PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Pennsylvanians are no strangers to groundhogs.
In fact, we have a holiday dedicated to the rodent. But some people in the Pittsburgh area say they’re being invaded – their yards, gardens, and one woman even found one in her house.
But there’s a reason for the sudden infestation, and it appears homeowners aren’t the only ones having problems.
The University of Pittsburgh is planning a new domed soccer and lacrosse field. Excavation of the site in Oakland where it will stand began just this week.
But people living in the area are seeing the effects.
“The university started moving the ground and tearing up the grass and pulling out shrubs from the site two days ago yesterday, and the groundhogs have already started to move,” Chuck Knoles, who lives in the neighborhood, said.
The grass is being replaced with artificial turf, which will make a great playing surface for the college athletes, but tearing out the grass means displacing the groundhogs from their natural habitat.
“I’ve seen as many as 30 groundhogs out in that field and they pop up and look in either direction and they go back down,” said Knoles.
Knoles also talked with NewsRadio 1020 KDKA-AM reporter Joe DeStio about the problem.
He said, “It was their intention that they were going to stop construction. That there was miscommunication between the contractor and the subcontractor. They hadn’t really contracted an exterminator yet to finalize how they were going to remove the groundhogs, but they were going to stop construction until that happened.”
Pitt officials released this statement Thursday: “The University of Pittsburgh is aware of and sympathetic to residents’ concerns. Excavation of the Trees Field site, which began Tuesday has been suspended. A contractor hired by the university to help control the groundhog population began its work yesterday.”
Even before the excavation work started, neighbor Jane Greenwood discovered one of the furry creatures had made its way inside her home.
“He must have burrowed under my house, found room in the crawl space and made his way through my house to the first floor and was there for two days before I discovered him,” said Greenwood.
Greenwood has outdoor traps now, but given the work happening nearby, she doesn’t want any more close encounters.
“I would like the city to do something,” she said. “I don’t expect them to eradicate the problem, but I would like them to make an effort.”
Pitt says they won’t do any more excavation work until the groundhog population is under control.