Living with Wildlife

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    Living with Wildlife

     I deleted my post regarding the woodchucks. Probably best not to say anything. Here is some info in answer to your question. Maybe it will help someone. From a NYT article: What can gardners do about woodchucks? This is a difficult question, and there are no magic answers. A farmer who tried every ruse ended up by training two puppies to bark at any invading furry creatures. The dogs do a good job of keeping the orchards well patrolled. Other farmers invent traps of one kind or another. One thing to keep in mind though is that where there are many woodchucks, getting rid of one does not always mean that the whole family will vacate. It is thought that an empty burrow can be recolonized within a week. And since woodchucks are a bit like rabbits -- they bear about four or five in a litter -- they multiply rapidly. Another way to look at the problem is to view the woodchuck as an overgrown squirrel. Woodchucks and squirrels belong to the same mammal family as prairie dogs, marmots and chipmunks. Gardeners who have witnessed the robberies committed by squirrels on bulbs and tree buds know the nuisance problems well. Finally, there are gardeners who don't mind the woodchucks' presence and regard the damage they do as minor. There are even some gardeners who factor in some percentage of their produce as being for wild animals. As more and more homeowners move in on the habitat of these wild creatures, however, the problems may become more vexing.
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    Re: Living with Wildlife

  3. Trapping: Woodchucks can sometimes be captured in wire cage traps, placed at the main burrow entrance or in travel ways. Apples slices, carrots, or unwilted lettuce are good baits. However, if the available foods are attractive, woodchucks may be reluctant to enter traps. Before attempting to trap woodchucks, be aware that, in Massachusetts, wildlife may not be relocated. Do not trap woodchucks unless you are willing to release them on site (such as an animal removed from a cellar) or to destroy them humanely.
  4. Shooting: Shooting is quick, simple, and effective in rural areas where firearms discharge is safe and lawful. A .22 caliber centerfire rifle is commonly used for this purpose. At close ranges (<25 yards), a 12-gauge shotgun with #4-6 shot may be effective. This method will be most useful when targeting a few persistent animals. But, again, during population peaks, or when foods are particularly attractive, new woodchucks will quickly move in to replace those that have been removed.
  5. Because they are abundant, Massachusetts has a 50-week hunting season on woodchucks. A hunting license is required. Nevertheless, they are not a particularly desirable game species for most hunters. If you have questions or are experiencing problems with woodchucks, contact your nearest MassWildlife district office. Further information on other wildlife is also available.

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    Re: Living with Wildlife

    Recommended Deterrent Techniques:
    • Woodchucks are easily frightened. Leave blown up beach balls in your yard; the wind will blow them around and frighten them. Place plastic bags on sticks in various spots in your yard for the same effect. Scarecrows and objects that move in the wind are also effective. However, they will grow used to these things and their effectiveness will fade.
    • Place lighting (such as bright flashlights, flood lamp, blinking strands of holiday lights, etc.) in their den. It is best to leave the lights on 24 hours a day. If this is not possible, the lights must be on during the nighttime to disturb the animal’s sleep.
    • Play a radio (portable alarm clock, noisy children’s toy, anything that plays music or makes noise repeatedly) either in or near their den. It is best to leave the radio on 24 hours a day. If this is not possible, the radio must be on during the nighttime to disturb the animal’s sleep.
    • Place rags soaked in ammonia in the den for one week. Ammonia has an irritating smell. Over time the ammonia will dissipate and it is important to re-soak the rags on a daily basis. *VERY IMPORTANT* We do not recommend using ammonia soaked rags during baby season (March – August). It may injure infant wildlife, which are too young to escape.
    • Deterrent techniques should be used for at least 7 – 10 days and it is important to use all the techniques at the same time in order for the deterrents to be successful.
    • To determine if the animal has left the den site, wad up newspaper and pack it into the den entrance (also helps hold in ammonia fumes). If the woodchuck is still using the den, the newspaper will be pulled out. If after a few days the newspaper has not been disturbed, securely repair any access routes. Use welded wire to exclude woodchucks from underneath decks, elevated sheds, openings under concrete slabs and porches. Secure outside access to crawl spaces.
    • Failure to do so may result in the woodchuck or another animal moving in.
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    Re: Living with Wildlife

    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.

    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 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.

    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.

    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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    Re: Living with Wildlife

    Wild Animals Make Good Neighbors

    A single bat can catch up to 1,000 mosquitoes in an hour, so many people encourage them to settle in their yards by building bat houses.(1) Contrary to myth, bats aren’t blind, they won’t get entangled in your hair, and most do not have rabies.(2) If one comes into your home, turn off all lights and open doors and windows. Bats are very sensitive to air currents. If the bat still doesn’t leave, catch him or her very gently in a large jar or net. Always wear gloves if you attempt to handle a bat, and release the animal carefully outdoors. Then find and plug the entrance hole.

    Moles and gophers are actually good for the yard, because they help to aerate lawns and eat the grubs who damage grass and flowers. Raccoons and opossums also eat plant-damaging grubs, slugs, and rodents.        

    Snakes are timid, most are harmless, and they can help control the mouse and insect population. But if you’d prefer that they keep their distance, stack wood or junk piles far from the house, as snakes prefer this type of cover. While most snakes are of the nonpoisonous variety, your library can tell you how to identify any poisonous snakes in your area.

    Keep in mind that leaving companion-animal food on the ground or keeping bird feeders can be an invitation to both rats and snakes. Consider planting bushes that will give birds a variety of seeds and berries instead.

  • You have chosen to ignore posts from AcheNot. Show AcheNot's posts

    Re: Living with Wildlife

    Thanks for all the info, Robin!

    Who knew that trapping/relocating wild animals was against the law?

    Not me

    I guess my great turkey undertaking from last year was an illegal operation


    PS Good luck, WinterBride-y!

    Hard to believe a small bunch of woodchucks ould do major damage to a solid structure like an inground pool, but I apparently it's true, huh?

  • You have chosen to ignore posts from dog-lady. Show dog-lady's posts

    Re: Living with Wildlife

    Are Woodchucks Dangerous? WDC does not consider these animals dangerous per se. Sure they may seem bold occasionally but that is true for most animals. They have been known to carry rabies from time to time (For more information on rabies click rabies.php ). As always children and adults need to avoid any contact with an animal they are unfamiliar with. There is some concern surround the possibility that woodchucks can undermine pools and foundations by their excavating. While WDC has not personally witnessed this kind of damage, we have heard of it occurring with an in ground pool. We also consider it quite possible that woodchucks can damage home/garage foundations. I have seen holes that extended under a slab foundation home. This undermining the foundation could result in a fracture of the concrete slab. We have heard that woodchucks can carry a hepatitis virus. We do not know any more about it at this time. As with all animals be careful.

  • You have chosen to ignore posts from GoneToTheDogs39. Show GoneToTheDogs39's posts

    Re: Living with Wildlife Check out this photo gallery of woodchucks and the comments.  Nice to know that a lot of people do appreciate these beautiful gentle creatures.
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    Re: Living with Wildlife

    Unless you have lived with and tried to co-habitat with them, you will not know, how destructive wild life can be. You can offer all the info in the world, how to live with them in peace, but that does not exclude the fact, that they are so destructive. It is fine and well reading about it on the net, but in real life, it doesn't work. I have spent hours on the net trying to figure out a way to live w/ our turkeys. But there is just no solution. The only solution is to physically remove them.
    Ache, we knew it was against the law to get rid of wild life, or our "turkey farm" would have been gone a long time ago. - Pingo
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    Re: Living with Wildlife


    Slingerlands, N.Y.

    I saw this woodchuck about 10 feet from our front door. He had burrowed into our basement, but didn't cause any trouble.
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