Woodchucks

About Woodchucks

  • In developed areas, woodchuck burrows are commonly located near open fields, along fence rows, roadsides, near building foundations or the bases of trees.
    • A woodchuck burrow can be distinguished by a large mound of excavated earth at the main entrance, which is usually about 25 to 30 centimetres in diameter.
    • Woodchucks keep a very clean burrow. They frequently replace soiled bedding, and excavate a toilet chamber separate from where they sleep.
    • Once abandoned, woodchuck burrows often become homes to rabbits, raccoons or foxes.
  • Woodchucks are active during the day, and when not feeding, can often be found sunning themselves on fences, walls, rocks or logs.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can woodchucks be a nuisance to people?

  • Woodchucks pose little threat to people or their pets. Woodchucks are skittish animals that will normally run away when they realize that humans are nearby.
  • Conflicts with humans occur when woodchucks feed on vegetable or flower gardens, or when they damage fruit trees and ornamental shrubs.
  • Occasionally, when woodchucks dig their burrows, they can damage underground power cables, or weaken sidewalks, driveways or building foundations.

What can I do about the woodchucks on my property?

Removing individual woodchucks may only create a vacancy for another animal to fill. To prevent wildlife from visiting your property, you must remove the food or shelter the animals are seeking.

Removing Shelter

If the burrow is occupied, wait until mid- to late summer to evict the woodchucks. This time period is late enough in the year for the young to become mobile and independent, and early enough for them to find a new burrow for winter hibernation.

Discourage woodchucks from returning to the burrow:

  • At the entrance of the burrow, place a scarecrow, a radio dialed to talk programming, or anything that moves and makes noise in the wind. Remember that scare devices must be moved regularly to be effective.
  • Place strong-smelling items such as mothballs, rags soaked with ammonia, peanut oil, or even clumps of used kitty litter at the burrow entrance.
  • Return to the burrow site often. A frequent human presence can make the woodchuck feel the burrow is no longer safe.

To know if the woodchucks have abandoned the burrow, loosely plug the burrow entrance with grass clippings or newspaper. If the plug is still in place after five days, you can assume that the burrow has been abandoned.

  • Use a durable wire mesh to cover the burrow entrances. Bury the mesh at least one foot deep, or use landscape staples to secure the mesh so the woodchuck can’t dig it out.
  • Also consider removing tall vegetation from around the burrow. Woodchucks like to move through vegetation that provides them with some cover, and so keeping grass cut low may help them stay away.
  • Closing off spaces under decks and outbuildings can prevent woodchucks from seeking shelter there.

Removing Food

Installing wire fencing can deter woodchucks from eating flowers, garden vegetables or chewing on ornamental trees and shrubs.

  • Because woodchucks are good climbers and diggers, be sure to bury the lower edge of the fence 25 to 30 centimetres, and bend the top 10 centimetres of the fence to make a 45 ° angle.
  • Also consider installing electric fencing.

Removing the Woodchuck

Woodchucks may be hunted, but not trapped, without a licence throughout the province, at all times of the year. Contact a Fish and Wildlife officer for further advice.

Contact

To find contact information for a Fish and Wildlife office near you, see:

Related Information

For more information on the species in Alberta:

To download in-depth information about woodchuck control from The Handbook: Prevention and Control of Wildlife Damage, published by the University of Nebraska, see:

 

Page Information

Updated: Feb 20, 2014