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Animal Rights Activists Dramatize Killing, Nose-Cutting of Groundhog

February 3, 1988

HOPKINTON, R.I. (AP) _ Animal rights activists celebrated Goundhog Dog by dressing up to dramatize the killing of a groundhog in a protest against a 200-year-old town tradition of paying a 15-cent bounty for woodchuck noses.

Hopkinton Harry, or a man dressed in a groundhog - or woodchuck - costume, poked his head out of an oversized burrow near the town hall Tuesday, then climbed out and stretched.

He was promptly ″shot″ by another man in costume, posing as a woodchuck bounty hunter. The hunter then cut off Hopkinton Harry’s nose, which was presented to Town Clerk Josephine Langworthy to redeem.

The Rhode Island chapter of Friends of Animals staged the dramatization of the bounty. Last year the animals rights group failed in an attempt to abolish the bounty.

″I think the bounty is really sick,″ said Sid Johnson, a member of the animal rights group. ″It’s bad enough that people are killing woodchucks. But for the town to condone it by paying people is really disgusting.″

The town started the bounty, Langworthy said, because woodchucks destroyed crops. In her 14 years as clerk, she said, she has seen 550 woodchuck noses. The town budgets $25 a year to pay the bounty; last year, the town paid $3.60 for 24 noses.

Although she declared herself ″opposed to the killing of anything,″ she said, ″I don’t think the town should change the tradition.″

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