Groundhogs - Problems They Cause, Methods of Removal and Prevention: The groundhog is a large rodent that likes to live in open spaces with abundant vegetation and food sources, and prefers digging borrows in loose soil. Woodchucks, as they're also called, live and raise their families in the large burrows and tunnels they make with different chambers for hibernation, for nesting, for escape routes, and even a separate chamber for going to the toilet. A big groundhog tunnel can be as long as thirty feet. If a groundhog set shop on your property, this is not good news, and you can probably already imagine why.
Problems groundhogs cause
If a groundhog has set up a den in your garden or your yard, you should take action immediately, and not wait for it to expand more and more into large underground tunnels. Why? Well, its excessive digging might compromise surrounding architecture if the animal gets too close under manmade structures, it will rapidly destroy agricultural land and crops, and of course, it will destroy lawns and yards without any hesitation. Groundhogs are often subject to death by vehicle, as they end up as roadkill along highways and roads that run through forest areas, which can be a major problem for different reasons. Damage to vehicles would be one, a danger to the driver and other passengers if the collision ends up in a full-blown road accident would be another possible problem, and the implicit health risks rotting woodchuck corpses bring along in also on the list, not to mention the fact that their decomposing bodies will attract other animals looking for a meal which will in turn lead to more possible road accidents. Groundhogs are also known to be aggressive when messed around with, and you definitely wouldn't want to get into a fight with them. I really can't think of any other problems groundhogs may cause, as they aren't known carriers of any specific disease that human beings can catch from them, although they do carry parasites such as fleas and worms, and this may represent an issue in what concerns pets or livestock that live nearby. If they've made burrows in areas where livestock is bred, this can be an issue as a cow or a horse could easily get stuck in there, or even break a leg while passing through groundhog territory.
Methods of removal and prevention
Basically, you have two options when dealing with nuisance woodchucks. First, ask a wildlife removal professional for assistance. This decision is, of course, the best one you can make. Once the pro deals with the problem, discuss prevention plans with them and see what needs to be done. Secondly, you can try and take matters into your own hands and trap the groundhog. This means you need to do some thorough research on groundhog behavior and biology so that you can know how to identify the correct location for the trap, and how to best lure the groundhog in. With a live cage trap, you're left with a panicked, aggressive animal that you need to relocate somewhere safe where it can live without causing issues for other people, and where it won't be a problem for other species already living there. My advice is that you check your state regulations around groundhog relocation, because there's a high chance that it is illegal for you to engage in woodchuck relocation if you don't have a license or permit that allows you to do so. The third option is to catch the groundhog with a deadly trap. Now you've solved your relocation problem, but you're still left with the corpse of a large mammal that you have to dispose of in a sanitary manner.
Your options in what concerns prevention are not varied at all. If you live in area endemic to woodchucks, the reason they're attracted to your property is food availability. And groundhogs eat mainly vegetation, so I can't imagine that you can or would want to get rid of all the surrounding vegetation. And even if you take such desperate measure, there will still be all sorts of insects and grubs on your property that will attract a hungry groundhog. The best and only effective prevention tool you have here is installing a fence around the area you need to protect from groundhogs. If this is a big area we're talking about and not just a little garden, there will be some serious spending involved. The fence needs to be at least one foot deep for it to be effective. If groundhogs keep returning even after the fence was properly installed, you can place a ring of two electrical wires around the fence, and there's no chance that this won't be 100% successful with permanently deterring the groundhogs. Alternatively, you can install an electrical fence from the get-go, but a simple solid fence also has high chances of getting the job done, and it will be cheaper – totally your call.
I will insist that your best option is to hire a wildlife pro, but if you choose not, make sure you don't start a groundhog war without being adequately prepared with knowledge and equipment.
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