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Valley woman's beach cleanup quickly becomes groundhog rescue mission

Karen Jenner didn't expect to find an animal in crisis during a typical walk on Black Rock Beach last Friday
Karen Jenner found the injured groundhog among rocks on Black Rock Beach in King's County (Photo via Karen Jenner / Nova Scotia Beach Garbage Awareness)

Karen Jenner spends a few hours, a couple times a week picking up garbage from the beaches near her home.

The Lakeville resident cleans up trash that washes up at five different beaches along the Bay of Fundy in King's County.

Last year, Jenner even started a Facebook page, called Nova Scotia Beach Garbage Awareness, to track her efforts.

"The seaweed is coming in, and in with the seaweed is all kinds of rope and styrofoam and garbage," she says.

But Jenner didn't expect to find an animal in crisis during a typical walk on Black Rock Beach last Friday.

"I had gone way out, it's not an area where there'd be many people, and I came across this little groundhog," Jenner tells

Looking around at the landscape, Jenner assumed the juvenile groundhog had fallen from the steep grassy cliffs above the beach.

"He was very out of place, kind of like if he'd been dropped in the middle of the desert," she explains. "He was just amongst all kinds of big rocks, and there's really nowhere for him to go."

She ays she figured the groundhog, who had a clear wound on his head, didn't have long to live. 

Jenner quickly sprung into action, picking up pieces of beach garbage that would help her.

"It was the first time I've been happy to be finding beach garbage," Jenner says. "Fortunately what I was looking for -- a water bottle and a lid of some sort -- I was able to find right around where he was."

Jenner says she collected fresh water dripping from the cliffs and placed the lid in front of the groundhog.

"It took him a little bit of nudging to get him to want to drink, but when he did he drank a fair bit," she adds.

groundhog2The groundhog, later named Lachlan, drinks water from a discarded plastic lid. (Photo via Karen Jenner / Nova Scotia Beach Garbage Awareness)

Realizing that it needed veterinary help, Jenner decided to take the groundhog back to her car. But first, she needed to get him off the beach.

"I was probably about a kilometre out on the beach and there weren't any buckets or anything around," she says. 

Jenner says she was wary that the groundhog would bite her, so she used a frayed fishing rope to help move him.

"As worn out as he was he still had a little bit of fight in him," she says. "But I was able to pick him up with this rope and just kind of drop him in the mesh bag that I carry, and I was able to carry him back to my car."

On her way back to her car, Jenner encountered a boy at the beach who took it upon himself to name the groundhog.

"He asked if I could name him Lachlan, and I thought why not? So his name is Lachlan," she laughs.

When she got home, Jenner found Lachlan the groundhog an apple crate, and kept him in her barn overnight.

"I gave him a carrot and he started to chew on that, so I think he's probably going to be alright," she adds.

In the morning, Jenner telephoned Hope for Wildlife, who sent a volunteer to pick him up.

"Hopefully he'll not be at Hope for Wildlife for too long," she says. And if he does have an injury that he's not able to be released, then they will keep him or send him to an area where he'll be provided with a good life."

Although she hasn't gotten an update on Lachlan's condition yet, Jenner is glad to have been able to give him a second shot at life.

"I just happened to be at the right place at the right time," she says.


Victoria  Walton

About the Author: Victoria Walton

Victoria is's weekend editor and a Halifax-based freelancer. She is originally from Nova Scotia's Annapolis Valley.
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