When ground hogs are not properly controlled they can cause a lot of damage. They burrow to make their homes and their tunnels can cause serious structural damage. The tunnels can also break apart the foundation of your buildings and they often chew through electrical wires or irrigation systems. If you want to get rid of ground hogs, also known as woodchucks, you will need a plan that incorporates; trapping, repelling and excluding. Below are steps and instructions for you to follow to get rid of your ground hog pests:
1. Get rid of what attracts them
Groundhogs are coming into your area to find food and look for a safe place to make their home. You can make your yard look less attractive to them so they will look someplace else.
- If you are gardening; harvest your crops as early as possible. They are especially attracted to; peas, beans and melons.
- Do not keep piles of debris around like rocks or wood as the ground hog likes to burrow under places that will give them shelter.
- If you have plants in your landscape they will be able to reach for a food source, keep them trimmed up so the ground hog will not make a home under them or use them as a meal.
- Ground hogs like to keep their teeth sharp and will use old tree trunks to gnaw on to do this. Remove any old stumps or sources of wood they would be able to use for sharpening their teeth.
- If you find any burrows that ground hogs have used as their home- cover them. Dig them out and about one foot deep; place a 3 x 3 piece of wire fencing and then bury the wire securely. MAKE SURE you know the burrow is abandoned.
2. Locate and identify areas they have damaged
Look for areas where ground hogs have made their home. These can be seen by finding where they go in and out of their burrows. Ground hogs will have from two to five different entrances/exits to each burrow and they are usually from six to eight inches wide. They will attempt to hide these by digging under vegetation or will sometimes use leaves and sticks to cover them. Common activities they do to alert you a ground hog is living on your property are:
- There will be damaged crops in your garden; especially with your beans, melons and peas.
- You will notice them eating grass and clover in your yard.
- There will be noticeable gnawing or chewing marks on woody vegetation.
- They will have chewed through your electrical wires or tubing.
- They will have dug holes and burrowed under lawn structures.
- Once you have established where they live- choose control method
Once you established that you have a ground hog problem and know where they live and what they are damaging; it time to decide how to get rid of them. Using more than one method will increase your success in removing them and keeping them off your property. These are some effective methods to use:
Live Ground Hog Trap
This is perhaps the most effective method of removing the ground hog however, they are very cautious animals so make sure you do not leave any of your scent on the trap when setting it or you will have a tough time trapping these cautious mammals. When you handle the trap make sure you wear gloves because this will minimize the chances of them being repelled by human scent.
Place the bait inside the trap so that the ground hog has to fully enter in order to reach it. You want to make sure the animal is completely inside and cannot back out when the door comes down. Place something heavy on the top of the cage so once the animal is inside the trap cannot be rolled allowing it to escape.
Since the ground hog is such a cautious animal, camouflaging the inside and outside of the cage will make it feel more comfortable entering it. Use leaves to hide the cage and create a more inviting area for it. A big part of deciding to trap them is choosing the right trap as it needs to be large enough to capture the ground hog. The trap should be 32 to 42 inches long so the animal has enough room to fully enter and allow door to come down. These traps come in either one door or two door options.
- The one door is easier for larger animals and easier to place bait inside and is large enough so animal can fully enter. Professional trappers prefer the one door model.
- The two door will calm the more cautious animal and can either be used as a one door or two door trap. The two door trap has been known to have a higher success rate. Before you operate a live trap make sure you understand your local laws regarding trapping and relocating the animals.
- Ground hog Repellents
The ground hog has a heightened sense of smell, so irritating that will tend to make them stay out of your area. Spicy pepper based repellents are a good source of repellent to apply to the area where you have seen ground hog activity. You can sprinkle the repellent around the perimeter to create a barrier and keep them out or spray liquid right onto surface of plants, wood, grass, mulch or wherever you have found signs of the ground hog.
If you have found a ground hog burrow and are trying to keep them from returning; remember that nothing will keep a mother ground hog away from its babies. You should determine if there is an active nest before using repellents.
The ground hog is a skittish animal and will frighten easily. Scare tactics work very well in conditioning them to stay away from certain areas. If you install a motion activated water sprinkler in areas you know they are staying in or visiting, it will condition them not to return that specific area. These sprinklers will not only protect your vegetation it will benefit them as well with the extra water supply.
A ground hog can climb quite well; however, a properly installed fence can make it difficult for them to climb and perhaps deter them from trying to get into your area. To properly install a fence:
- Install one that is at least three to four feet above the ground.
- Use a wire fencing that is constructed strong and has opening that are no larger than 3 x 3.
- Bury the fence under the ground at least one foot so the ground hog cannot dig underneath it. If you place an “L” shape under the ground it will be even more effective.
- At the top of the fence add an outward angle to increase difficulty of the ground hog being able to climb up and over into your yard.
Your best time to get rid of ground hogs is in the early spring. You will want to remove them before they begin mating. It is difficult to get rid of a mother ground hog and you will also have a bigger problem once the babies grow.