Woodchucks

Preventing and controlling property damage

The woodchuck inhabits both rural and urban areas. They can become a nuisance when their feeding and burrowing habits conflict with human interests. Woodchucks feed on a variety of vegetables, grasses and legumes, and have the ability to destroy an entire garden or flowerbed in a relatively short time. In addition to plant damage, burrowing along sidewalks, driveways and building foundations can lead to serious damage to structures.

Finding the burrow

In the spring, occupied woodchuck burrows are easily recognized. Fresh dirt pellets (ranging from marble size to clods about as big as a fist) are generally found at the mouth of an active burrow. Clawed or girdled trees and shrubs also help identify woodchuck inhabited burrows and dens.

Minnesota law

State Statute 97B.651 states that mammals that are deemed "unprotected wild animals" may be taken at any time and in any manner, except with artificial lights, or by using a motor vehicle in violation of section 97B.091. Poison may not be used to take unprotected mammals or unprotected birds unless the safety of humans and domestic livestock is ensured.

Hunting and trapping

The most effective control of nuisance woodchucks is to remove them. In areas where hunting or shooting is not permissible due to local laws, the alternative is removal by live trapping.

To obtain a live trap, contact the various large rental agencies throughout the metro area or check with your city dog pound or other animal control agency, or the Humane Society, for the possible loan or rental of such a trap.

Traps can be baited with apples or vegetables such as carrots and lettuce. Locate the trap at the burrow's main entrance. Guide logs placed at either side of a path between the burrow opening and the trap will aid in funneling the animal toward the trap. All traps should be checked twice daily, morning and evening, so that captured animals may be dealt with in a humane manner.

Once the woodchuck is captured in the live trap, you may dispose of it in any humane manner. If you choose to relocate, it is suggested that the animal be taken at least five miles away and out-of-town. It is unlawful to release wildlife on state-owned lands (State Parks, WMAs, etc.) without permission. Before releasing the animal on any public or private land, obtain permission from the landowner or governing agency. Please review the "Facts About Wildlife Rehabilitation" page for more information about risks associated with relocating wildlife.

Consult local laws before applying controls.