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No Groundhog Day for soybean farmer

Cary Ashby • Jul 1, 2016 at 5:00 PM

Eleven groundhogs were caught in about one week on Brian Welch’s farm.

Now that his traps have the proper enclosures, he and his workers have yet to catch one of the critters. 

“I have a very bad issue with groundhogs,” Welch said Monday in Norwalk Municipal Court.

The farmer also told Judge Eric Weisenburger he didn’t feel comfortable shooting the animals because there are houses near his 68-acre farm. 

Welch provided the judge photos for him to see of damage caused by groundhogs — $5,300 to the duct work in a mobile home and about $2,479 to soybeans.

A wildlife officer with the Ohio Division of Natural Resources had charged Welch with a trap enclosure violation.

“One of the neighbors called,” said Tim Harvey, who works on Welch’s farm.

Welch entered a “no contest” plea Monday to the fourth-degree misdemeanor and was convicted, costing him a $50 fine he has to pay within 30 days.

“I was not aware of the laws,” Welch told the judge.

Harvey sets up the traps along a creek bed on Welch’s property within weeks of when the soybean plants start growing.

“A groundhog can eat an acre a day,” he said, noting if the plants get taller than six inches, the groundhogs won’t eat them.

“I have four (traps) out there,” Harvey said. “Since I’ve been compliant — with a cage over top of them, I haven’t gotten a single one.”

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