Groundhogs Dig Up Bones At Montreal Notre-Dame-des-Neiges Cemetery

A viral video taken at Montreal's Notre-Dame-des-Neiges Cemetery and posted to Facebook on Monday shows long, uncut grass, weeds, and most disturbingly of all, disinterred human remains. 

In the video, since deleted on Facebook but shared elsewhere on social media, Montrealer Pierre Mainville Proïetti says he was visiting his grandfather's grave when he found that a groundhog had burrowed into the neighbouring gravesite and dug up several bones, including parts of a skull.

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How does the Montreal cemetery deal with groundhogs?

The groundhog problem at Notre-Dame-des-Neiges Cemetery is well-documented

The cemetery published a statement about the issue on its website.

Daniel Granger, the spokesperson for Notre-Dame-des-Neiges, told MTL Blog that the groundhogs have been "around for a century or more."

He said the cemetery is prevented by law from removing or harming the animals and that any removal of bones is rare.

"Our only option is to live with them and minimize the possible impact that may from time to time occur."

Granger explained that the cemetery has a "strict policy" to take care of any damage to a gravesite as soon as it's reported. 

A photo shared with MTL Blog shows the gravesite after staff had repaired it.

Courtesy of Daniel Granger

"When we know the specific location, we go right away," he said.

Why is this part of the cemetery overgrown?

Proïetti's video shows overgrown plants and uncut grass.

A visit by MTL Blog revealed that the whole section around the graves shown in the video had a similar appearance. Other sections were manicured and tidy.

MTL Blog

In May 2021, the Canadian Press reported that the cemetery had reduced its workforce, prompting a workers' protest during Mother's Day weekend. 

But Granger asserted that the cemetery isn't lacking staff.

MTL Blog

"We have something like 100 employees," he told MTL Blog.

"We're following our regular schedule of cleaning all the grasses on properties where we do have people there."