In the video, the deputy appears to back away at times from the groundhog and then approach it. The animal walks one way and then stops. The deputy backs up as the groundhog comes toward him, then kneels down on one knee and shoots it twice.
The incident unfolded Sunday afternoon along Liberty and White Rock roads in Eldersburg, Md., about 50 miles north of the District. Cpl. Jon Light, a spokesman for the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office, said the deputy believed the groundhog was “acting oddly.” He said it was not known whether the groundhog was rabid.
The video of the deputy encountering the groundhog has been viewed more than 39,000 times on Facebook. The Baltimore Sun was among the first to report on the incident.
Justyna Olkowska, who noticed the commotion when she was driving home from work, posted the video to Facebook. She said, “it started out as a cute encounter where I thought I was trying to help the little fella. I obviously did not think that it would take this turn and was kind of shocked.” She said she believed the deputy did “the best thing in this situation.”
“It is not for me to judge,” she said.
Light said the deputy got out of his patrol car when he came upon the traffic jam and saw the animal in the roadway creating a traffic hazard. He said the deputy tried several times to guide the groundhog to the side of the road, but the animal wasn’t “acting as you would expect a wild animal” to act.
Usually, Light said, a “normal, nonaggressive animal will turn and go away.” Light said the animal was believed to be sick or injured.
“He put it down for public safety,” Light said, adding that it’s within the department’s policy to do so.
Light said the incident is under review. He did not provide details about the deputy or identify him.
In Carroll County, Light said the sheriff’s office gets “a lot of complaints” about animals.