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Woodchuck nearly broke me

Discussion in 'Gardening With Animals' started by catjac1975, Jun 5, 2017.

  1. Jun 5, 2017
    catjac1975

    catjac1975 Garden Master

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    Forgive my rambling. We battle woodchucks every year.. Even with a fence buried nearly 2 feet down, we get some infiltrating the garden by midseason. By then they don't do that much damage-just make a mess with their mountains of sand from a mile down.. I saw a bit of nibbling one morning on my broccoli-just a couple of plants. By the next morning they had eaten an 80 foot row of peas, and probably a hundred broccoli, cauliflower, etc. plants. I came out early the next day and saw it jump through the fence twice in the morning as if there was no fence. I know a shotgun is the solution many of your would have, but we don't own one, never used one, and there are a few houses too close to even legally use one. In the spring when the woodchucks are young and thin they move very fast. We put poison in their holes and it has kept the numbers down. After growing all of those plants since January I felt deflated, and for 30 seconds or so giving up ran through my head. I kept checking the fence for a hole and could not find one. With careful investigation I found a gaping hole in the fence. My husband then said he thinks he remembered hitting the fence with the lawnmower that fall. GGGGRRRRR..He said he did feel my pain at least. He ran to the store returning with chicken wire and we added a four foot mesh over the current fence.. Definitely overkill but there was no one in may garden this morning. It took all day. I am hoping the plants will come back from the brink but, I do not think I will get broccoli or cauliflower from this disaster.. I am starting seeds today so I can at least get a fall crop. Though it is not as successful as a big spring crop. Boo hoo, boo hoo, boo hoo.
     
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  2. Jun 5, 2017
    Nyboy

    Nyboy Garden Master

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    Sorry cat I know wildlife can be hell on a garden. Deer are my big problem, no hunting so they have no fear of man. Years ago I remember smoke bombs where sold for woodchucks. You had to locate all entrances and block them off, then drop a bomb in burrow and block that one off. If you missed a entrance hold would not work. I tried it when living in CT did not work. Week later my SO chow killed it.
     
  3. Jun 5, 2017
    thistlebloom

    thistlebloom Garden Master

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    Oh no! That's a huge loss Cat! I would be wailing too. Is your season long enough to get a second harvest from starts? I have never encountered a wood chuck near my garden, thankfully, but gophers are my current nemesis.
    We fenced for deer last year so that's not keeping me awake at night at least.

    I hope you get some regrowth and at least something for all your hard work.
     
  4. Jun 5, 2017
    so lucky

    so lucky Garden Master

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    Oh Cat, what a disappointment! I had a battle two years ago with little rabbits getting through the fence, but covering with chicken wire along with the fencing took care of that. I did notice Penny trying to tear through the fence last summer, hot on the trail of something. Had to repair that area.

    You can still buy Atlas Giant Destroyer Mole and Gopher killer bombs. Active ingredients are sodium nitrate and sulfur. But be careful, as they can also kill small nosy pets. I would think they would work on woodchucks, but they do usually have several escape hatches.

    We've been enjoying watching three deer come out of the woods, across the gravel road and down to the pond in the evenings and sometimes mornings. I think they come to our burn pile, maybe to eat some ashes? I doubt these deer will last through deer season, though. Between that and the highway, deer don't have a long life expectancy around here.
     
  5. Jun 5, 2017
    Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Garden Master

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    We call them groundhogs here but the same thing. I battle them every year. Even with a nice 12 gauge it's not easy. They are hard to get a decent shot at. They can climb a lot better than you might imagine too. And as big and fat as they are, they can squeeze through some fairly small holes. If there is just a small opening at the bottom of a wire fence they can often squeeze under the fence without slowing down. And they have great eyesight, they almost always see me before I see them.

    They have one main den with several entrances they raise a family, but they will also dig other holes scattered around their territory. Those are emergency holes in case they are caught out in the open. I had one dig an emergency hole in my garden in the corn. It amazed me but it did not bother the corn as it ripened, but it took bites out of a lot of other things like tomatoes as they ripened. It also ate the leaves off of some pole beans as high as it could reach but did not bite the bean stalk in two.

    I've tried using coyote urine to keep them away from that den. If I used a lot it seemed to keep the groundhog away for a couple of days but it soon returned. I even shot one, a fairly young male, that was using that emergency den but there were others using it. On a few occasions my dogs have cornered one and kept it at bay until I could get the shotgun.

    I've tried trapping them using the recommended baits, apples with vanilla and really ripe peaches. That's never worked thought I've got raccoons I didn't know I had. I recently read that if you set the live trap over the hole they'll enter it trying to get in but I haven't tried that. Don't bait it, just set it over the hole. Where and how they dig them that can be difficult but level the area so you can set the trap steady and don't worry about filling in the hole.

    The only time I've trapped one was this spring. I had my raccoon sized live trap set up near my compost but didn't have any bait in it. At one time it had bait but the mice had eaten it and I had not re-baited it. I made a box to fit over my live trap so the only way in is through the front. Groundhogs are not afraid of holes and I think it just wandered in.

    If you can fine their main den, a strategy I haven't used is to get a smoke bomb and set it off in the hole, covering the hole so the smoke comes out of their other hidden exits. Once you've located all the other escapes, set up so you can block them all and drop a poisonous smoke bomb made for them (I think you can get it at Walmart but I never have) and cover that hole. That kills them underground so they may stink as they decay, but I think I could live with that.

    I'm consistently unsuccessful dealing with them but occasionally I have a success. Good luck!
     
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  6. Jun 5, 2017
    catjac1975

    catjac1975 Garden Master

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    Bombs do work if they are in a new tunnel and back door is not yet made. Poison has been the best. Stupid husband made the hole is the fence and forgot about it.No return today of the varmint. but damage is done.
     
  7. Jun 5, 2017
    catjac1975

    catjac1975 Garden Master

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    Woodchuck and gopher is the same I think.
     
  8. Jun 5, 2017
    catjac1975

    catjac1975 Garden Master

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    I have never seen them climb.You can trap a young one but the adults are too smart for a trap.
     
  9. Jun 5, 2017
    Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Garden Master

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    Not that long after I moved here I saw a groundhog in a tree that had been treed by a neighbor's dog. I didn't know the neighbor yet and it was on his property so I didn't trespass. Once I got to know the neighbor I would not have hesitated to shoot the groundhog. If he'd seen it up there he would have shot it.
     
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2017
  10. Jun 5, 2017
    thistlebloom

    thistlebloom Garden Master

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    No, woodchucks are much bigger. Gophers have poor eyesight and don't spend much, if any, time above ground. They eat the roots of plants mostly, though we have witnessed them grab mouthfuls of long grass right beside their hole. Dh used to sit on a camp stool or bucket next to a new hole and wait with a .22. But cats are more efficient.
     
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