Re: Living with Wildlife
posted at 5/12/2012 7:53 AM EDT
When proper fencing is not possible there are numerous methods which may possibly deter woodchucks but are by no means guaranteed. One method is to plant species which repel woodchucks, such as gopher plant (Euphorbia lathyrus) or crown imperial fritillary (F. imperialis) around the garden.
Allowing a pet dog access to the planted area may also help deter woodchuck visits.
Repeated treatment of the planted area with various repellents such as fox or coyote urine, diluted Tabasco sauce or red pepper flakes, or scattered human hair are other reported deterrents.
Construction of a visibility barrier such as a three foot black plastic wall, before the woodchucks identify the area as a foraging ground, may also be effective.
WOODCHUCK HOLE HAZARDS
No interference with woodchuck burrows should be attempted until after the young are capable of leaving, approximately July 1st. If woodchuck holes in walkways present a hazard to people, pets or farm animals, they could be located and flagged so that they may be deliberately avoided. After the young are able to leave, an attempt to drive the woodchucks from their burrow may be made. Locate all the holes and stuff all but one with rags which have been soaked in olive oil. As the olive oil becomes rancid it gives off an odor repugnant to the woodchucks and they will relocate. However there is no guarantee that they will leave the property, they may just move to another location in the same yard.
WOODCHUCKS UNDER BUILDINGS
Woodchucks often conceal their entrance hole by placing it under a rock, in a thicket, or in many cases under a building. Rarely is the structure of the building affected.
Openings can be closed with wood, concrete, or hardware cloth (half-inch wire mesh aluminum screening). To prevent the woodchucks from burrowing, a one-by-one foot trench should be dug around the base of the structure. The fencing is then nailed to the bottom of the building and buried underground as shown below on the left.
Another option (above, right) is to slide three foot wide chicken wire under the building about six inches. When placed around all sides of the building, the woodchuck will be unable to gain access by digging. If the base of the building is more than four inches above the ground, vertical fencing should also be placed around the building.
WOODCHUCKS AND RABIES
All mammals, including woodchucks, are susceptible to rabies. Rabies is a viral disease that attacks the central nervous system and is invariably fatal to wildlife. The virus, found in the saliva of an infected animal, and transmitted through a bite or scratch, manifests itself in two forms: "furious" rabies and dumb rabies. The symptoms, which appear anytime from two weeks to three months after exposure and vary in each species, cause marked changes in behavior. An animal with the "furious" form can become aggressive, disoriented, and snap or bite at anything in its path; whereas, an animal with the "dumb" form is unnaturally tame or friendly.
If you suspect that you have been exposed to rabies, immediately wash the area with soap and water and seek medical attention. The treatment of rabies no longer requires the series of shots in the stomach, it is now quite simple. Notify the local animal-control officer if the animal is suspected of being rabid or the Massachusetts Department of Public Health at (617) 983-6800.
Good judgment and common sense will eliminate the chances of rabies posing a threat to people and their pets. Dogs and cats should be vaccinated against rabies. Avoid contact with wild animals and unfamiliar domestic animals, and be sensitive to unusual behavior patterns in pets. Obey state laws which make it illegal to possess or transport and relocate wildlife.
WOODCHUCKS AND THE LAW
Relocating wildlife is illegal in Massachusetts. It is detrimental to the well-being of wildlife as well as the public. Unknowingly, sick animals may be transported and released in other locations, causing the spread of disease. Animals released in unfamiliar territory have a hard time surviving. They must compete with resident animals, and they have difficulty finding food and shelter. Furthermore, relocation is ineffective: each time a territory opens, there is always another woodchuck "waiting in the wings."
It is also against state law to possess wild birds and mammals. Wildlife rehabilitators are trained and licensed by the state to care for injured and orphaned wildlife. If you need the services of a rehabilitator contact MassWildlife (Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife ) at 508-366-4470, or Mass Audubon's Wildlife Information line at 781-259-2150.
According to state law, animals which are damaging property can be destroyed under certain conditions. MassWildlife should be contacted if this course of action is being considered.
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Compete article @ http://www.massaudubon.org/Nature_Connection/wildlife/index.php?subject=Mammals&id=77