A video quickly making its way across social media shows a Maryland deputy shooting a groundhog as the animal was attempting to cross a road.
The Carroll County Sheriff’s Office confirmed the rodent’s death in a statement framing the incident as a mercy-killing. According to that statement, the deputy in question happened upon a traffic back-up and quickly discovered it was caused by the wayward attempts of the groundhog to brave the asphalt.
In the video, the deputy can be seen apparently trying to cajole the animal off the shoulder of the road. But as the deputy retreats toward the opposite side of the road, the groundhog consistently follows. A woman’s voice narrates, mistaking the incident for something cute, repeatedly mentioning how the groundhog wants to be pet.
Near the end of the video, the groundhog quickly scurries forward, prompting the deputy to leap back in fear. Then the officer unholsters his pistol and takes a knee to aim. He appears to kill the creature with a single shot. The narrating woman cries out, “Oh my gosh! Oh no! Oh no! Oh my God! He shot! Oh. My. God.” But the groundhog rises again. The deputy notices and takes another shot.
The incident was then uploaded to Facebook. In comments to CBS Baltimore, the woman who filmed and narrated the video said, “[I] did not think that it would take this turn.”
The Carroll County Sheriff’s Office released the following statement after the video made news:
The deputy was travelling [sic] on Rt 26 in the area of White Rock Road when he observed traffic backing up along the road. He found that the groundhog in question was walking into the roadway, causing vehicles to stop and creating a hazard. He got out of his vehicle to assess, and as he tried to direct the groundhog off of the roadway, he realized that it was not responding as expected for an animal that was not being cornered or trapped. Believing the groundhog to be either sick or injured, the deputy then put the animal down for the public’s safety.
[image via screengrab]