Additional Resources

Woodchuck Resistant Plants

Woodchuck Favored Plants

Woodchuck Control

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 Woodchuck Control

Woodchuck (Marmota monax). Image courtesy of Nebraska Game and Parks CommissionWoodchuck (Marmota monax) is known by a variety of terms, including groundhog, whistlepig even gopher. NEBRASKAland Magazine/Nebraska Game and Parks Commission Photo

 

Biology

  • Diurnal
  • Prefer open fields
  • Normally vegetarian. But after winter hibernation will eat protein.
  • These "ground hogs" or "whistle pigs" are usually grizzled brownish gray, chunky 5 to 10 pound animals with short tails. When startled, they produce a low "tchuck, tchuck" followed by a shrill whistle. They may run slowly into burrows, usually within 150 feet away.
  • Occasionally they bask in sun on low lying walls, rocks or logs.
  • They can climb sloped trees.

Sign

  • Tracks
    • Toe Pad Marks on Hind Feet five
    • Heel Pad Marks up to 3 inches wide X 4 inches long including long claws
    • Claw Marks Yes
  • Large burrow openings of 8 to 12 inches with mounds of dirt in front of the hole called a "porch." A second possibly third hole may also be present within 10 yards. This additional hole will lack the thrown out dirt.
  • Trails and trampled areas in crops and pastures.

Damage

  • Gnaw or claw trunks and stems; outdoor tubing, wiring.
  • Lawn Damage Mounds and burrows can damage lawns and turf.
  • Structural Damage Occasionally, their burrowing can weaken dikes and foundations. Also, they can gnaw on undergroud power cables and utility lines, rubber hoses in parked vehicles.
  • Agricultural Damage Woodchucks are a type of marmot that live in theopen farmlands, fields, and pastures of the northeastern U.S. and Canada. They have recently extended their range to west of the Missouri River. They feed on alfalfa, clovers, fruit tree and ornamental shrubs, soybeans, beans, squash, peas, and other garden plants. Their mounds can slow or damage mnechanical harvesting equipment.
  • Tree Damage Fruit trees and ornamental shrubs

Solutions

Habitat Modification

  • Woodchuck Resistent Plants
  • Fencing Gardens and sheds-- Use heavy wire 2-inch mesh fences at least 3 feet high, bending the lower edge outward and burying 1 to 2 inches below ground. Alternatively, bury the fence to a one-foot depth. At the top, use an electrified wire or bend the top 15 inches outward to 45 degrees to prevent climbing. See Exclusion for details on preventing damage.

 

Repellents

  • Scarecrows and other effigies can provide temporary relief if woodchucks are not used to people.
  • Hazing--time consuming but it may work in your situation. Learn the principles at Hazing

Shooting

  • If legal, use .22 caliper centerfire rifles with telescopic sights. if legal, and at ranges within 25 yards, one might use a 12-gauge shotgun with No. 4 or No. 6 shot.

Trapping

  • Bait--fresh apple slices, carrots, lettuce.
  • Footholds--Use No. 11 or larger at burrow entrances or in animal travel lanes. Use guide sticks or fences to funnel animals.
  • Body-grip 160's to 220's over den entrance.
  • Snares
  • Cage/Box traps- single door- 10x12x32 minimum; double door (spring loaded) 10x10x36 minimum.

 

Round body grip trap. Photo by Dallas Virchow

  • Body gripping traps
    Description: Used for burrowing rodents and for carnivores must be set safely
    Photo Credits: Dallas VirchowBody grip kill traps (IE Conibear #'s 160, and 220) , if legal, can be an alternative to fumigants under structures. Can use unbaited in woodchuck travel lanes or at main burrow entrances.

Toxicants & Fumigants

  • Burrow fumigants--
    • Sulfur based
    • Aluminum phosphide tablets may be legal as a burrow fumigant. Use as per label.

Legalities

  • Many states consider woodchucks a legal game animal and a valid state game license is required.

Health & Safety

  • A similar species, the Yellow-bellied marmot, of the Rocky Mountain states, is a host for the tick that transmits Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.
  • Occasionally prized livestock may mistep into woodchuck burrows and injure themselves.

News

University Publications

Managing Woodchuck Problems in Missouri--University of Missouri 

Managing Woodchucks--University of Kentucky 

Woodchucks--Purdue University PDF

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