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Muskrat was no love note

Union Leader Correspondent

March 26. 2012 11:06PM

FREMONT - Police are investigating after a smelly dead muskrat was left on a teacher's chair in a classroom at Ellis School.

The discovery was reported to police March 19 after a staff member arrived in the morning and found the rotting rodent in a seventh-grade math teacher's room, Police Chief Neal Janvrin said.

The teacher was not the person who discovered the aquatic animal, but police believe it was meant as a prank and that she was the intended target.

Janvrin said Doug Totten, the school's assistant principal, notified police.

Janvrin said the case could lead to disorderly conduct or even animal-cruelty charges.

'The animal appeared to have been hit by an object. It wasn't run over and it couldn't have died of natural causes,' police officer Greg Huard said.

Police are investigating the possibility that it was placed on the seat by one or more former students who visited the school on Friday, March 16, Janvrin said. The animal was found on a Monday morning, meaning it could have been on the chair through the weekend.

Neither School Superintendent Bill Lander nor Principal John Safina could be reached for comment Monday.

Fish and Game Conservation Officer Chris McKee said muskrats are common in New Hampshire and that trapping season for the rodent has begun. Muskrats are smaller than beavers, measuring anywhere from 1 foot to 2 feet long and weighing up to 4 pounds.

'There are a ton of muskrats in the state. Any swampy water body will usually have muskrats,' he said.

Anyone who traps a muskrat must have a license unless it's caught on their own property, he said.

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