toasting relocated ‘chucks on groundhog day

woodchuck-in-garbage-canLET’S RAISE A GLASS TODAY TO RELOCATED GROUNDHOGS, toasting the ones we managed somehow to outsmart. That’s one such captive in the garbage can, above—remember?—about to be literally driven away from the garden (by a licensed nuisance-wildlife handler, since regular citizens are forbidden to relocate animals by law here). It was a highlight of my year in 2009. Happy Groundhog Day. It will be another “Just Say No to Woodchucks” year here at A Way to Garden, but I won’t try this naive approach to ridding myself of them ever again. You can’t fool Mother Nature, you know.

  1. Sharon says:

    My dog provided me with the funniest/scariest/most embarrassing groundhog capture I’ve ever seen. As we were trying to get our 80-pound big black poodle to drop the groundhog he had captured, our neighbors came driving by. They had the car window down, and slowed to see what the commotion was all about. He ran right up to the car window, the groundhog squeaking and flailing about in his frothing mouth. The look of horror — coupled with the quick rolling up of the window — said it all…..

  2. Brian G. says:

    No groundhog encounters (yet) but I certainly have my share of moles in the cellar (like you) and house mice, and field mice and of course we can’t forget the colony of bats that have taken up residence in the soffit thanks to the sloppy masons that repaired the chimney. What the hell, why do these fellows want to live with us? Maybe they are asking, “Why do these two legged fools want to live with us?” Good question, Mickey, and you too, Punxsutawney Phil.

  3. Linda P says:

    I discovered my family of chucks were coming in from the neighbors yard under my fence. I put the have a heart there without a place for them to go but the trap. It worked three times. I also captured a skunk who was very cute and docile. They all are living in a wild life preserve now. I plan to be early on them this year as well….

  4. HATE groundhogs. I spent the entire summer a couple years ago being tortured and teased by one: He’d come and destroy valuable plants, I’d try and trap him, bait him, kill him with a shovel, ANYTHING — and he’d get away. Little vermin. I’m not big fan of mammals.

  5. Margaret says:

    Glad to see that I am among friends in my loathing of these voracious rodents. It is a gray day here — no sunshine yet — and I forget what that means about spring. I am pretending it’s just around the corner, no matter what the groundhog says. Bring it on.

  6. Susan Mitchell says:

    Good morning Margaret,

    I am thoroughly enjoying your website and blog comments. Thanks for sharing. Congratulations on capturing your groundhog—-but I was trying to find out–did you ever tell us how you actually DID it?
    I have had a groundhog living under the shed in my suburban/rural backyard for several years no. I don’t grow many vegetables because I work at a nearby vegetable farm, but do love flowers and especially zinnias. Problem is, the groundhog also loves to eat them (and a few other annuals and perennials). My garden is too large and spread out to fence or use sprays efficiently. I tried a Hav-a-hart trap a few years ago—but he avoided it. Perhaps I did not bait it correctly. At any rate, if you have any tips or suggestions, I would be very grateful. Also—I don’t know whether this will work or not, but I wanted to share with you a photo of daffodils in my backyard from last spring. I dragged and dropped the link below. Maybe it will open for???
    /Users/Susan/Pictures/iPhoto Library/Modified/2009/155 Ruby Road/DSCN0551_2.JPG

    Keep up the good work. Susan

  7. Lisa S. says:

    We believe in big dogs, Anatolian Shepherds, to be specific. Gotta have great fences, but then it’s nothing but dead groundhogs. I hate ’em too.

  8. Dennis H. says:

    I had a major problem last summer from a groundhog family living under my neighbor’s garage…fortunately the neighbor had them all safely trapped and relocated before my dog was able to take care of the situation himself! Now the problem du jour is raccoons messing with my fishpond and compost pile….

  9. Providence Acres Farm - Sheryl says:

    We had a big family of them living under all the buildilngs on the property when we moved in. The first summer they ate an entire small field of sunflowers when they were all about 6″ tall and all the nicotiana I planted.

    Last year I moved the veggies to a far field and put up with them until July, when the babies were grown and they still had time to find another home for the winter.

    I soaked many, many rags in pure ammonia and put at least one in every single hole I could find. I then scattered them on the ground around the main hole. I never saw a groundhog again. Here’s hoping they are permanently gone!

    Pure ammonia is the only thing that worked and I put all kinds of horrible, smelly things down those holes. I read this tip somewhere on the internet.

  10. Margaret says:

    Note to all, since several have emailed me about NY State laws on moving wildlife, which I am well aware of:

    For the record, in NY State the woodchuck is an “unprotected animal.” You can live-trap it and then euthanize it “humanely” the law says…any time, any number of animals…and you can also shoot woodchucks if you have a hunting license…again, as many as you want, any time of year. But you are not allowed to move one off your land alive unless you are have certification as a nuisance-wildlife expert.

    Many pest-control firms in the Yellow Pages have such a person on staff, or the DEC can recommend a licensed person (who will charge hundreds for the removal). But as a regular person, unlicensed, you cannot move wildlife alive off your own land; you need to get help to stay within the letter of the law. I am lucky that we have a licensed person nearby who is willing to work cheap because I am so charming. :)

    @Sheryl: Yes, I have read this, too, and will try it this year now that your remind me — never have, but it sounds like it would drive them nuts.

    Welcome, Lisa. Big dogs are a perfect antidote (and preventive, too), but I have none (nor any small dogs). Jack the Demon Cat is not afraid of woodchucks, nor does he attack them (though he is a giant of an animal at 15.8 pounds and a fierce hunter), but he is very specific about not living with a dog. :)

    Welcome, Susan. Sorry about your woodchuck. Ugh. I think the idea w/Havahart traps is that you wire the door so it stays open the and animal can go in and out for a couple of days and get the bait without the door slamming. Then on Day 3 or so, slam…because you unwire the door.

    Woodchucks are herbivores, so vegetables and fruits like apple slices, green beans, cabbage or lettuce, cukes…you get the idea. Not just a slice on the paddle in mid-trap, but something noticeable. I think you are meant to put a trail of food leading to the trap as well (or use a lure or bait meant for woodchucks, from one of the trapping/hunting suppliers). I have never used the lure.

    We caught that particular canned woodchuck because it fell in the frogpond. I used a fishnet, and my trusty assistant held the can.

    Welcome, Dennis. Raccoons are nasty in many ways, and they go after my fish and frogs and so on, too. We trap them as well, but you have to use the big traps because with their bushy tails the adults seem to be able to back out of the traps (using their tails to hold door open). Sardines seem to really attract raccoons (and probably everything attracts skunks, which is the downside to this Havahart business).

    Hope to see you all again soon (minus your woodchucks).

    1. Margaret says:

      Welcome, Frederick. I see we have another jokester among us (not just Andre). Very cute. My neighbor, a longtime hunter, tells me woodchuck isn’t bad (in that they are herbivorous their meat is somewhat tasty) though I have never tried. Hope we see you again soon.

  11. Mary Ashcraft says:

    Since I do not have any groundhogs here in my part of VA, I enjoy watching Punxsutawney Phil on TV in search of his shadow! Another jokester….

  12. Mary Brainard says:

    Being a master gardener I was aghast that you would trap the animal and dispose of it yourself. I was happy to see your comment about the laws in NYS. Also, a large number of animals that you trap can be rabid, and this is best left to professionals who know how to handle these animals. I garden organically and I do have some small wildlife but I have tons of bulbs in the garden and I can sacrifice a few each year knowing that my garden is a refuge not just for me but for all creatures. But we have had to have a raccoon removed that just loved eating out of our birdfeeder on our deck and watching us through our window. Even the dogs didn’t scare it. So far it is the only animal that we have had to deal with.

    I am enjoying the blog, keep up the good work.

    1. Margaret says:

      Welcome, Mary. Glad you are enjoying the blog. For perspective, I live in a state forest and parkland (my tiny “yard” is surrounded by thousands of acres of it, including many that rented out as cornfields by nearby farmers) so every manner of animal from bear to coyote to fox (gray and red) to raccoon, weasels, woodchuck, skunk, rabbit, porcupine, various rodents and insectivores from three kinds of squirrels to chippies and moles, mice, voles, and also deer (if I stupidly leave the gate open) and etc. etc. etc. comes to visit or lives here with me regularly. With the rabbits and chucks, I try to explain that there are plenty of other acres right across the road for them to explore besides these 2 or 3. :) I do see a rabid raccoon or two each year in the area and those are reported to DEC and the sheriff’s office at once for advice/assistance. Promise.

      You are right, raccoons and tenacious. My cat has a cabin behind the house and he is often visited (though his cat door) by them. You should see the cabin after one of those wild parties! I can’t have a cat door on my house because everyone would be in here. Hilarious, really, and always a lot of entertainment to be had.

  13. Southern Gal says:

    well after a few years of not much damage from groundhogs (my first year in this garden was disastrous – until i plugged up all the holes including a huge den).

    so this year – the roses – which are now three years on from their bareroot beginnings – really came in beautifully this spring . its been a joy to see all the lovely leaves and new growth on the roses…

    until this week… dum da dum dum.

    i noticed a few days ago that one of the roses looked weird but there was a lot going on and i didnt have time to really examine it – then today i was standing in the kitchen door and looked out to see –

    a f*#$*$Ng groundhog calmly standing on his hind legs and chewing on the rose leaves he could reach.

    damn =- i ran out and saw where he scampered back.. and sure enough all the leaves from about two feet down have been eaten off ALL the rose bushes – one poor knockout is nothing but stems with a few little leaves at the top –

    and several perennials were eaten to the ground too.

    i know others here will understand my anger and annoyance. i did find the hole that he is using – and will have to figure out something to do – probably cement it up as its a space where three fences join and he has dug a tunnel thru to the other side…

    but damn and blast this is so annoying – i was really hoping for a good crop of blooms this year after nurturing these baby bushes for the last few years. ( there are several david austen roses too)

    and yes i live in ny and no i cant afford to hire anyone to take it away even if i did trap it.

    one of the reasons i garden is for roses.


  14. marion says:

    I introduced one woodchuck to my friend Smith & Wesson. The latest one may cause me to mow my flowers or the roots to them down. I even grew lettuce in the trap. The only reason he hasn’t met the same fate as the first on is the fact he runs when he hears the door open and is a lot quicker than I am. When I find his point of entrance he is going to be as unhappy as I am.

    1. Margaret says:

      Welcome, Marion. They are devilish, aren’t they? I haven’t had my first encounter yet this season…dare I say that? :) See you soon again, I hope — but no woodchucks, please.

  15. Lyn says:

    When I lived in VA we had a woodchuck under our deck. He eventually
    dug under our sun room and ate through our air conditioning ducting. I paid a fortune to have a trapper come out, leave a humane trap and an apple in the trap. I stood there scratching my head wondering why I called him when I could do the same thing. We caught one but it took a few days. You have to realize in VA woodchucks are up to forty pounds. Not the cute little ground hog. Anyway you have to take them past the two mile circumference of your home. I did not know that they find their way back. One night we had one at our sliding glass door. I am not sure but I think he gave me an obscene gesture. After a month we caught him again and this time took him out ten miles and over two highways. Didn’t see him again but that winter we caught 18 mice in our home before we figured out Mr. Woodchuck had eaten through the ducting.

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