Nocturnal animals damage Albany cemetery

Marcel Locke inspects damage created by animals peeling back dead turf in the Albany cemetery each night. Photos by Bethany M. Dunbar

by Bethany M. Dunbar copyright the Chronicle 8-22-2012

ALBANY — Skunks or raccoons are being blamed on nightly episodes of tearing up the grass at the cemetery in Albany Village.

“It’s a crying shame,” said Marcel Locke, who is helping the cemetery caretaker, Waldo Potter, try to address the problem.

“If we could get some people in there to turn this over, and then we’d get some rain, we’re all set,” he said.  He is looking into getting a work crew from a prison as voluntary help.  Mr. Locke has gone back many mornings himself and turned the turf back over, right side up.  But the next night there’s just more damage.

Mr. Locke said he believes the problem is created by skunks eating grubs, which are easier to get when the ground is this dry — so dry that the grass is dead in large patches.

“This is a sandy loam soil, and it dries out very quickly,” he said.  “The roots are dead.  There’s no root system left.”

He added that Albany doesn’t have money to hire anyone, and water is so low in the village that he doesn’t see how they could water the grounds.

“All of our resources are low on water,” Mr. Locke said.  “Our springs are low.  The worst part is that there is no money at all.”

The cemetery is about five acres, and shaded patches still have some green grass and are clearly exempt from the damage.  Low spots that seem to be a little wetter also still have green grass.  They have not been disturbed, but large sections of the cemetery have been dug up.  Huge chunks of dead turf are peeled back and small paw prints are visible in the dusty earth.  An occasional grub can be seen, and Mr. Locke said he’s seen grub holes the size of his thumb (which is a good-sized thumb).

Doug

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