Groundhogs, also known as woodchucks, can be a huge nuisance to share a living space with. Groundhogs like to dig, and if left to their own devices they will dig so much that they can interrupt the structural integrity beneath manmade structures. They hollow out the ground just bellow the surface of your yard, and they will eat crops and foliage. There are humane ways of getting rid of groundhogs, but you must be careful because they can be aggressive.
Putting up fence will help block groundhogs from getting into your yard. The fence should be at least four feet tall and it should have no slats and holes, or the openings should be too small for an animal to squeeze through. When the fence is being installed, the bottom 12 inches of the fence need to be bent at a 90-degree angle and buried six inches deep. This will prevent the groundhogs from tunneling under.
Animals do not like hot pepper because it contains a substance called capsaicin. Capsaicin is what makes hot peppers hot, and it can cause irritation to the skin, eyes and nose. It can also cause digestive upset.To make a repellent to deter groundhogs, mash hot peppers in a blender with some wax or gelatin. Spread the mixture around the perimeter of the area you do not want the groundhogs in. You will need to reapply this at least one or two times each month and after heavy rainfall so it remains effective.
If you block off the hole to a groundhog's den, it may not return. Do this during the summer months so newborn from the spring litter are old enough to survive on their own. Start by filling the entrance hole to the burrow loosely with grass clippings and soil. Wait two to three days. If it gets pushed aside, the groundhog has returned. If it remains intact, you can finish closing off the hole by positioning a piece of 2 x 2 inch mesh fence that is about three square feet in size, secured with landscaping stakes, over the opening of the hole. If the groundhog has come back, try covering the hole with a board or filling it in with something heavier like sand or kitty liter. Once you have successfully evicted the groundhog, fill the hole with mesh fence.
In some cases you may need to catch and relocate a groundhog that is too stubborn to be repelled by humane methods. Contact your local animal control or the Humane Society to get a non-lethal trap to catch the groundhog in. Bait the trap with a food the animal will be attracted to like an apple, carrots, or lettuce. Use logs or bricks to create a walkway from the opening of the borrow to the trap. Check the trap frequently -- at the very least in the morning and evening. Once you have caught the groundhog, move him at least five miles from your home. Check with local wildlife officials to determine the best location. Always get permission from local government and/or landowners before releasing a groundhog on someone's property.
- "Garden Doctor: Advice from the Experts"; Denny Schrock; 2005
- Minnesota Department of Natural Resources: Woodchucks
- Minnesota Department of Natural Resources: General wildlife control techniques
- Humane Society; How To Humanely Chuck a Woodchuck Out of Your Yard; 2009
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images
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