Cowleys received a call from an Oakhurst homeowner who needed help to resolve a stubborn nuisance wildlife problem. Burrowing groundhogs were making a mess of his backyard. The critters were hovering mostly around a property-line fence with their next-door neighbor. Groundhogs are known by a variety of names including woodchucks, whistle-pigs, and land-beavers. The name “whistle-pig” reflects one of their unusual behaviors: when alarmed, groundhogs emit a high-pitched whistle to warn to the rest of the colony. Also, the name “woodchuck” has absolutely nothing to do with wood or chucking. It’s a derivation from the Algonquian name for these critters, wuchak.
Groundhogs are a rodent in the marmot or large ground squirrel family. Unlike the much more visible tree-dwelling squirrels, groundhogs live underground in burrows and hibernate there throughout the winter. Most other marmots live in mountainous areas far away from human habitats. However, the groundhog has readily adapted and adjusted to being near people and their delicious vegetable gardens. They are found throughout New Jersey, even taking up residence in communities along the Jersey Shore. Groundhogs are a rabies vector species along with raccoons, skunks, and foxes. As such, there are restrictions as to their relocation. A nuisance wildlife specialist will ensure compliance with all applicable state laws and municipal ordinances.
Groundhogs are capable of causing extensive property damage, especially in home gardens and around buildings. On occasion, burrowing can weaken home foundations. Woodchuck burrows typically have a large mound of excavated earth at the main entrance, which is approximately one foot in diameter. During spring, the freshly excavated earth at the main entrance can be helpful in locating active burrows.There are two or more entrances to each burrow system. Some secondary entrances, dug from below the ground, do not have mounds of earth beside them, so they are usually well hidden and sometimes difficult to locate. A wildlife nuisance removal specialist should be contacted if there are burrows and other evidence of groundhog activity around one’s home.
Groundhog burrows are fairly distinctive. Since the main entrances were on their neighbor’s property, I first checked with the neighbor for permission to enter his property in order to set traps. The neighbor not only gave me permission, but thanked me for coming and offered me a drink! I placed the traps next to the burrow holes. I always put organic materials like mulch, dried grass, dirt on the floor of the trap to project a familiar environment for the animal, and baited the traps with cabbage as well as two highly effective groundhog baiting products: Chuckster paste bait and Chuckster liquid. The paste works well for late spring and early summer groundhogs. The liquid, which a combination of different vegetable essences, is a groundhog lure that works well when used with the paste. The liquid has a long lasting odor that lures groundhogs during the late summer and early fall until they go into hibernation. Using the paste with several drops of Liquid Chuckster is almost a guarantee that you’ll successfully trap these yard- and garden-destroying critters.