‘Woodchuck Lives Matter’ Movement Hits Troy Streets
By Scott Salad
Published September 11th, 2016
TROY— After the investigation into the death of a Frear Park woodchuck yielded insufficient evidence to warrant charges against two Rensselaer police officers, local activists say they've had enough.
Woodchuck Lives Matter — “a movement that campaigns against systemic violence toward lowland rodents who inhabit Capital Region golf courses” —marched Friday through downtown Troy, demanding an end to police brutality.
“This is a call to action,” head organizer Wendy Flute told a group of protesters gathered near the Rensselaer County Courthouse. “We need to create a world where woodchucks do not have to hide in their burrows whenever a drunken police golf-outing barrels through their habitat.”
The movement — which uses the hashtag #woodchucklivesmatter to promote itself on social media— began in June, after allegations surfaced that two Rensselaer police officers deliberately ran over a woodchuck while participating in their Police Benevolent Association's annual golf tournament.
Witnesses allege the pair mowed over tee boxes and drove into a roped off area in pursuit of the woodchuck, before intentionally crushing him under the wheels of their golf cart. As if that weren't enough, the pair proceeded to triple bogey Frear's par-three ninth hole.
“They four-putted,” a witness who spoke on condition of anonymity told the Smudge. “That's a travesty. That hole is so easy.”
The Rensselaer County District Attorney's office referred inquiries to the Department of Environmental Conservation, which in turn, informed the Smudge that woodchucks are not protected animals.
“Unprotected species may be taken at any time without limit,” said DEC spokesperson Carl Pastry. “A hunting license is required to hunt unprotected wildlife with a bow, crossbow, or firearm. But as of yet, there is no law against inebriated policemen running over an unprotected critter while playing in a best ball tournament.”
Woodchuck Lives Matter says its time for that law to change.
“After what happened in Frear Park, marmot activists have raised the call for an end to violence, not an escalation of it,” said Flute while holding up a picture of two little juvenile groundhog siblings play-fighting. “What the hell would possess someone to run one of these over anyway? They're sooo cute!”