Groundhog Season | Notre-Dame-des-Neiges Cemetery, Montreal
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Nature, Site & Environment

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Groundhog Season

The cemetery, like the rest of Mount Royal, is home to many animal species, such as groundhogs (Marmota monax), also known as woodchucks.

You’ve probably already seen them at the cemetery since many of them take advantage of this area, which is ideal for them: natural space filled with vegetation where frequent digging loosens the earth, making it easier for them to burrow.

Groundhogs awakening after long months of hibernating in their burrows is seen as a symbol of spring’s arrival. That’s why around this time of year you’re likely to come across several of them, as well as entrances to their burrows, during your visit. When digging burrows, groundhogs excavate, meaning they remove earth to make space for tunnels. So it’s normal to see piles of dirt near groundhog holes.

Groundhogs are harmless and feed mainly on fresh vegetation. They sometimes dig up pieces of wood, metal, plastic and even old bones, but they’re not interested in these items at all. They remove them from their burrows simply because they were in their way.

Because of their burrowing nature and their numbers, we sometimes receive complaints about the groundhogs living on our site. However, groundhogs are legitimate residents of Mount Royal and cannot be removed! They have rights and we must respect them. Our only possible courses of action are blocking burrow entrances and collecting and reburying the bone fragments we find. We therefore invite you to coexist, as we do, with Mount Royal’s groundhogs and to take advantage of this opportunity to observe wildlife.