The Q&A Archives: groundhog/woodchuck problems

Question: I came home this afternoon to find a groundhog eating my vegetable garden. It did extensive damage on quite a few of my crops. I can't let this happen; I sell these! I will do anything! Poison them, shoot them (I own a registered hand gun, which according to the website of the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife is legal if the shot is smaller than #4 buckshot), or strangle them!!!!! I hung shiny curled ribbons all over my fence (I have a mixture of chicken wire and chain link) and put glittery, shiny fabric near the gate. It lives under my neighbor's shed; is it her responsibility or mine since it is ruining my garden? There are two broken pieces in her fence (5 feet from my garden, of course!) and I hung more curly ribbon in front of them. What else can I do? I don't want to spend $50 on a Havaheart (and quite personally, looking at the damage it inflicted on all of my hard work, I don't want to have a heart) anad it will be too late anyway. If it feeds again, my crops are ruined for good. It stripped 3 broccoli plants of most of their leaves, tore down 40 feet of peas and ate their tops, and massacred my lettuce. It started on the carrot tops, but didn't do much to them. What time in the morning do they come out? I know they feed in the morning and the afternoon. I can be in the garden then to discourage them. Will my crops that are chewed come back? Will my peas keep growing without their tops (form new ones?) Can broccoli grow with only a few young leaves? I know my lettuce and carrots will be fine (the carrots that weren't eaten that is.) Please help me!!!!!!!!!!

Answer: I'm so sorry. Woodchucks can do terrible damage in a short time. First off you might try repairing the fence to fence it out. Wire mesh should be three to four feet tall and also buried horizontally underground, extending outward about a foot or so to deter them digging under it.

I would suggest you contact your local animal control office and see if they will remove it for you or lend you a trap, depending on your local government the policies and resources vary.

You might also contact your state game commission if you are serious about shooting it. There may be safety issues with shooting in a residential area or near a property line. You would need to be out early in the morning, around dawn or in the early evening when it is cool. They are often active during the day as well.

Please be very careful. Although they seem to become accustomed to and unfrightened by people, they are still wild. Woodchucks are wild animals -- with extremely large teeth, they can move very fast, and they are known for biting unexpectedly.

Here is some more information about woodchuck control you may find helpful. Publications/Woodchuck_factsheet.pdf

Good luck!

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