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Groundhog Invasion Frustrates Syosset, Long Island Residents

SYOSSET, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- Some homeowners on one Long Island block were complaining late Monday that they are being targeted underground by a groundhog invasion.

As CBS2's Jennifer McLogan reported, the summer this year was not quite the same as usual in the Cook family's Syosset backyard. It has been inundated with groundhogs – snacking on garden vegetables and destroying landscaping.

"I don't know how many there are, because they all look the same," said Johanna Cook.

Groundhogs are burrowing below, leaving big holes, and popping up on the Cooks' side of the fencing.

"I see them coming out from behind the hastas, walking along my pool, and the gardens, just eating," Johanna Cook said.

Cook went on to show CBS2's McLogan the ruins of her backyard garden.

"This used to be squash but it's gone," she said, pointing to a space where only weeds are now left. "This was my pole string beans, and as you see, I have only one little string bean plant that's left."

The backyard is filling up now because groundhogs hibernate early, and may soon be getting ready to slumber under the Cooks' patio where their grandchildren play.

"It's very destructive, but they're cute," said the Cooks' 8-year-old grandson.

But Johanna Cook, a retired nurse, has health concerns.

"I decided that maybe I should try to catch them," she said. "I don't know if this cage is sufficient. I think that maybe it's a little too small. We have to be very careful not to get ourselves bitten and have a bigger problem."

Experts warn that groundhogs may carry rabies.

"You have to remember they are wild animals, and that we should not be going near them. but obviously with us encroaching on their land, you know, we're going to come across them," said said April Perry of the of the Holtsville Ecology Center.

If groundhogs are becoming a nuisance, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said to use ammonia, cayenne pepper, animal scents and sprays, or even kitty litter or human hair to thwart the invasion.

Experts say groundhogs can also be deterred by bright lights and loud music.

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