Woodchucks, also known as groundhogs, are large, burrowing rodents. Adult woodchucks can weigh up to 10 pounds. They are prolific diggers, creating large interconnecting burrows. They can cause significant damage by burrowing under sheds, gardens and other structures. Woodchucks won't attack when unprovoked and generally avoid humans whenever possible. They can be eliminated using natural, nonchemical methods that deter them without harming them.
One of the simplest and most effective natural ways to remove woodchucks is to put up a fence. Woodchucks can climb, so make the fence at least 3 feet high and bury the bottom into the ground at least 1 foot deep so they cannot dig beneath it. Fences of heavy poultry wire or 2-inch woven mesh are ideal.
Woodchucks are frightened by people and loud noises. Devices such as scarecrows or human dummies can scare them away from your yard, but once the devices are removed or they prove harmless, the woodchucks may return. It’s best if these devices are designed to move or make noise. Making frequent visits to your garden also deters them. You can try placing an object that blows in the wind, such as a beach ball, around the area that the woodchucks are entering.
Set up a live trap to eliminate woodchucks around your yard without harming them. Before setting up the trap, contact your local animal control office or humane society to find out where you should take the animal once you've trapped it. Then wash the trap with unscented dish soap before you set it, and wear latex gloves when handling. This way the woodchucks won’t find your scent on the trap, which may warn them away. Place the trap on a flat surface so it won't move, and place a couple of rocks beside it to prevent it from toppling over. If you know what the woodchuck prefers to eat, place that inside the trap as bait. Typically beans, peas or fresh alfalfa will lure woodchucks into the trap. Check the trap regularly. If you’ve trapped a woodchuck and moved it, wash the trap before setting it up again to remove the animal’s scent from inside.
Burrows Under Buildings
To remove woodchucks burrowing under sheds and other structures, you should wait until late summer after the young have been weaned. If the mother is forced to leave, the young may die inside the burrow. The best technique to force the woodchucks to move is to place a radio near the burrow entrance, because they hate constant loud noise, and shine a flashlight inside the opening. Partially dig out the entrances to the burrow and remove any surrounding vegetation as well. This makes the woodchuck feel insecure and makes it more likely to leave the hole to make a new burrow elsewhere. When you suspect the animal has vacated the burrow, place loose hay or newspaper around the exit and entrance holes. If the hay or paper is not disturbed for three or four days, you can permanently seal the hole by digging a 1-foot-wide trench at least 1 foot deep and by placing heavy wire screen into it. Check the screen regularly to ensure the animal isn’t trying to dig back into it.