On Thanksgiving morning, one of our readers spotted an unlikely creature in Morningside Park.
Josiah Gluck took this video to capture the sighting:
We reached out to Friends of Morningside Park, and a representative told us it’s a common woodchuck, also known as a groundhog, and that she’d never actually seen one in Morningside Park (though she has seen them in NY golf courses).
MORE: Humpback Whale Spotted in Hudson River Near 72nd Street
According to National Geographic, “Groundhogs hibernate from late fall for roughly three months, then wake up when it’s still quite cold.” So I’m not sure what this guy was doing out and about.
While an NYC woodchuck sighting might be rare outside of Groundhog Day, a 2013 article in the NY Times noted a “a population of perhaps a few dozen scattered throughout city parks, botanical gardens and cemeteries, some so isolated from any other groundhog community that naturalists do not know for sure how they got there.” The Times spoke to a Parks Department ranger at the time, who told them that groundhogs can be found in Fort Tryon Park in Upper Manhattan, and that there’s actually a small groundhog population in Central Park as well.
Conservationist David Burg told the Times that it’s likely “groundhogs in Central Park and other city greenswards were dumped there — or descend from groundhogs dumped there — by frustrated gardeners who trapped them.”