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How many flags could woodchucks chuck, if woodchucks could chuck flags? The answer: about 75.
The two-year Mystery of the Missing Flags at a veterans cemetery in Hudson, N.Y., is finally solved, and all signs point to an inside (or rather, underground) job: The cemetery's own flag-stealing groundhogs were the culprits, and their unpatriotic crimes were caught on camera, the local Register Star reports.
Video proof of the critters' capers comes as a relief to some locals who'd suspected possibly racist motives behind the flag-stealing incidents.
Last year, dozens of miniature flags went missing from the graves of Jewish soldiers at Cedar Park Cemetery, right around the Fourth of July, Albany's cable news channel YNN reports.
Then last week, the flag thefts happened again, this time at the graves of black Civil War soldiers. Local veterans' groups were outraged, but worked to replace the ground-level flags, one by one.
"I just can't comprehend the mindset that would allow someone to do this," one disgusted vet told YNN. Had the thief been human, he could have faced criminal theft charges -- and the scorn of the community.
But it turns out, the thieves' suspected criminal mindset was actually more of an animal instinct.
Apparently, a substance used to coat the miniature flags is irresistible to groundhogs, also called woodchucks, according to The Register Star. Groundskeepers from other parts of the country say the same thing's been happening at their cemeteries.
You can see images of the flag-stealing varmints in action, in this report by Albany's WTEN-TV:
"We can all rest a little easier knowing that it was a critter and not a human defacing our flags, especially those of the veterans," Hudson's police commissioner told The Register Star about the groundhog flag thefts. "Now I just need to figure out where to send the bills."