The woodchuck is the largest member of the squirrel family we have in Minnesota. In the spring woodchuck kits are born. They spend their early life underground and usually are not seen by humans until they are exploring with both their parents outside their dens. Both the parents participate in raising the young.
- If you are having problems with woodchucks chewing on your flowers or decorative plants, spray these plants with a mild solution of 2/3 water to 1/3 plain (non-soapy) cleaning ammonia. It is non-toxic and discourages chewing because it tastes terrible. Remember that rain will dilute your spraying and neutralize its effect, so you may have to reapply after a rain shower. Do not spray on human food plants, as it will affect the taste. However, you can spray around the border of human food gardens. If you have large human-food gardens, consider fencing it with 1/2-inch hardware cloth. Woodchucks are great diggers so be sure to bury part of the fencing under the ground. Initially it will be more work, but it also will result in a sturdier, more effective fence that will serve you long-term.
- To discourage nesting under a porch or shed place ammonia soaked rags into tin cans and roll them into the den. The mother will not appreciate the smelly atmosphere and will move her young to another site.
- Place clear glass jars filled with water (seal the top) around the areas you are having problems with visiting woodchucks. The appearance of their reflection will scare them away.
- Planting garlic and onion plants where you do not want the woodchuck to visit will help keep them away. They do not like certain plants from the allium family.
- Placing blood meal or talcum powder near a burrow can also help deter woodchucks.
We strongly discourage live trapping for the following reasons:
- It is futile. Studies have found that an area or habitat will hold a limited number (carrying capacity) of any one species of animal. It will hold no more than that because the over-abundant population is reduced by food scarcity and predators. But the fact that is even more significant is that the area or habitat will also hold no fewer than the established number. So, by live trapping and taking some animals from the area other animals of that species will move in.
- Live trapping frequently results in the death of a trapped and relocated animal due to the stress and trauma of the situation, carrying capacity of habitat introduced to, resident animals defending their territory, and food scarcity. Also, another special concern is the spread of disease by unnaturally relocating animals. Add to that death count the fact that the trapped animal may be a lactating female who leaves behind babies to the painful death of starvation and dehydration.
- We have seen an increase in animals that injure themselves frantically trying to escape live traps. This injury is not the intent of the trapper and often that animal then needs medical attention, rehabilitative care and occasionally surgery to repair the injury.