The woodchuck hadn’t slept well. A strange fog hovered over the meadow last night, and an occasional moan had slipped into her burrow. It was probably the wind, she told herself, trying to dismiss the uneasy feeling.
But a text from her cousin Shirley confirmed her suspicions; there had been a baby bunny massacre in the next meadow. Four tiny furry rabbits had been found scattered near a burrow, the nest of sticks and feathers and dryer lint pulled from the hole; something had dug down and pulled them out one by one. Shirley said the forest was in an uproar because a predator was obviously in the area. Some were pointing paws at an owl or a hawk because of the strange noises during the night, but Shirley had her own theory: feral cats.
“They are so entitled,” she complained. “They think they can have it both ways. They get to live outside but someone supplies them with food and a box of hay, so they aren’t exactly surviving on their own.” Shirley hated feral cats.
The woodchuck didn’t really like them either, but she doubted the cats were involved. Most of them were too fat and unwilling to go after an entire burrow of bunnies. She paced around her snug quarters, wondering what she should do.
“Hey!” A shout right next to her ear made her jump straight up. She realized that the Fox had stuck his head into her tunnel and was staring at her upside, like Spider-Man. “What are you doing in here?” she shrieked.
“I’m investigating that murder that took place last night. Those babies were over six weeks old, and that means there was an illegal procedure in this meadow. Have you seen the mother rabbit? If you help me find her, I’ll give you some of the $10,000 reward.”
“There is no way I’m helping you,” sputtered the woodchuck. “The mother rabbit had nothing to do with that. She was probably out looking for food and is now devastated; you’re just making it worse. And what are going to do with money? You already know they won’t serve you at 7-11.”
The Fox stuck out his tongue at her and disappeared. He and his kind were becoming quite ruthless, and it was worrisome. They seemed to think they had the power to set rules for the rest of the forest, even though woodchucks made up more than half the population. For all she knew, he had been the one to drag the bunnies out of their burrow. Foxes liked to munch on the little ones, and there had been rumors that they were hoping to ensure a domestic supply of snacks.
The woodchuck was not particularly maternal, so she hadn’t paid much attention to what the foxes seemed to be trying to do. She’d born a litter before but once was enough for her—it had been way too crowded with five extra little groundhogs in her burrow, and she’d been happy when they were old enough to leave. She really didn’t want to do that again. Plus, her cousin Shirley had nearly died from having too many in a litter, and the Fox seemed to think that was just fine.
She enjoyed mating season, though, and wasn’t planning on stopping that no matter what they told her to do. It was none of their damn business. As she pondered her past escapades, the woodchuck wondered if she had mated with any of her cousins. There were just so many of them and they all looked alike, so who really knew? Trying to avoid her own species, she’d once gone out with a hoary marmot, but its name was a little too close to what she’d seen scrawled on the bathroom wall. The meadow had a complicated dating scene.
She felt like she should do something to protest what the Fox was trying to do, but that seemed pointless. There were woodland animals marching all over the place and it just made them easier targets for hawks. She was starting to see those flyers again that told her to Get Out the Vole, which she now understood was not a small rodent. She’d always had a problem telling L and T apart, but it was hard to read in a dark burrow while wearing sunglasses. Besides, she would be hibernating in November, and it was just so much easier to stay asleep. It wasn’t like not voling had gotten them into this situation in the first place.
The woodchuck is by nature fatalistic, but that doesn’t mean we have to be. Keep marching, keep writing letters, keep using sidewalk chalk in front of Susan Collin’s house! And in November, Vote Blue all the way down the ballot!