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- In developed areas, woodchuck burrows are commonly located near open fields, along fence rows, roadsides, near building foundations or the bases of trees.
- A woodchuck burrow can be distinguished by a large mound of excavated earth at the main entrance, which is usually about 25 to 30 cm in diameter.
- Woodchucks keep a very clean burrow. They frequently replace soiled bedding, and excavate a toilet chamber separate from where they sleep.
- Once abandoned, woodchuck burrows often become homes to rabbits, raccoons or foxes.
- Woodchucks are active during the day, and when not feeding, can often be found sunning themselves on fences, walls, rocks or logs.
How woodchucks can be a nuisance
- Woodchucks pose little threat to people or their pets. Woodchucks are skittish animals that will normally run away when they realize that humans are nearby.
- Conflicts with humans occur when woodchucks feed on vegetable or flower gardens, or when they damage fruit trees and ornamental shrubs.
- Occasionally, when woodchucks dig their burrows, they can damage underground power cables, or weaken sidewalks, driveways or building foundations.
What to do about the woodchucks on your property
Removing the woodchuck
Woodchucks may be hunted, but not trapped, without a licence and throughout the province, at all times of the year. Consult your municipality for any restriction on the use of firearms.
In the case of persistent problems with woodchucks, removing individual woodchucks may only create a vacancy for another animal to fill. To prevent woodchucks from visiting your property, you must remove or contain the food or shelter the animals are looking for.
If the burrow is occupied, wait until mid- to late summer to evict the woodchucks. This time period is late enough in the year for the young to become mobile and independent, and early enough for them to find a new burrow for winter hibernation.
Discourage woodchucks from returning to the burrow:
- At the entrance of the burrow, place a scarecrow, a radio dialed to talk programming, or anything that moves and makes noise in the wind. Remember that scare devices must be moved regularly to be effective.
- Place strong-smelling items such as mothballs, rags soaked with ammonia, peanut oil, or even clumps of used kitty litter at the burrow entrance.
- Return to the burrow site often. A frequent human presence can make the woodchuck feel the burrow is no longer safe.
To know if the woodchucks have abandoned the burrow, loosely plug the burrow entrance with grass clippings or newspaper. If the plug is still in place after five days, you can assume that the burrow has been abandoned.
- Use a durable wire mesh to cover the burrow entrances. Bury the mesh at least one foot deep, or use landscape staples to secure the mesh so the woodchuck cannot dig it out.
- Also consider removing tall vegetation from around the burrow. Woodchucks like to move through vegetation that provides them with some cover, and so keeping grass cut low may help them stay away.
- Closing off spaces under decks and outbuildings can prevent woodchucks from seeking shelter there.
Installing wire fencing can deter woodchucks from eating flowers, garden vegetables or chewing on ornamental trees and shrubs.
- Because woodchucks are good climbers and diggers, be sure to bury the lower edge of the fence 25 to 30 cm, and bend the top 10 cm of the fence to make a 45° angle.
- Also consider installing electric fencing.
Download in-depth information about woodchuck control from The Handbook: Prevention and Control of Wildlife Damage, published by the University of Nebraska:
Your municipality or municipal district is authorized to help with woodchuck concerns. Local pest control companies may also be able to provide advice or service.
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