Woodchuck Damage Identification

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Damage to Structures 

Burrows of woodchucks undermine foundations of buildings, pools, and sidewalks. Woodchucks chew on wood and may gnaw on pipes and wires.   

Damage to Livestock and Pets 

Holes of dens can create dangerous conditions for riders of horses. Although rare, woodchucks may bite domestic animals and expose them to diseases. 

Damage to Landscapes 

Woodchucks can cause significant damage to garden plants and agricultural crops. Trees may be severely damaged or killed by chewing and territorial marking (Figure 5). Production of apples often drops for trees in the vicinity of dens. Woodchucks readily climb cherry and apple trees, causing damage to limbs and fruit. Broken limbs of fruit trees can be mistaken for damage by raccoons. 

Figure 5. Damage to a fruit tree by woodchucks. Photo by Robert K. Swihart.

Health and Safety Concerns 

Woodchucks occasionally scare owners of property through displays of aggression, known as bluff charges. Healthy woodchucks flee from people, though woodchucks will defend themselves when cornered. Pets and children should not approach woodchucks. Though rare, woodchucks can become infected with rabies, tularemia, and hepatitis. A variety of ectoparasites, including ticks that are vectors for diseases, also infest woodchucks.  

Dens may cause safety issues for pedestrians and wheeled vehicles, particularly on hillsides.