Woodchuck damage to home vegetable or flower gardens is often difficult to control. Homeowners need to keep in mind that, when populations are high and food sources are abundant, new woodchucks will quickly replace those that have been eliminated. To avoid or reduce damage and make your property less attractive to woodchucks, consider the following options:
  • Exclusion: Fencing can help alleviate woodchuck damage, but woodchucks are good climbers, so fences should be at least 3 feet high, constructed of heavy chicken wire or 2-inch mesh welded wire. Bury the lower edge 10-12 inches deep to prevent 'chucks from burrowing under it. An electric wire 4-5 inches off the ground and 4-5 inches from the fence, powered by an approved fence charger, will discourage woodchucks from climbing. Electrified netting is also effective. Contact your local farm supply business or a MassWildlife district office for information on electric fences. As an alternative, bend the top 15 inches of the fence outward at a 45° angle.
  • Structures: Woodchucks may burrow under sheds, porches, walkways, or other structures. Be proactive and securely block up all possible crevices, cracks, and holes prior to any use by woodchucks. Examine these areas regularly. Boards, fencing, or stones may have to extend 12 inches or more into the ground to prevent tunneling. If 'chucks get into these places, you may have to block them repeatedly. Be careful not to block such places when woodchucks may be trapped inside.
  • Fumigants: Woodchucks may be killed in their burrows with commercial gas cartridges that produce carbon monoxide and other gases. First, you need to find the main burrow entrance and all secondary holes. Block all holes except the main one with a chunk of sod. Ignite the cartridge, throw it down the hole, and block up the hole. Watch for smoke emissions, which indicate a poor seal. Follow all directions on the cartridge. Do not use gas cartridges under sheds, porches, or other buildings. Do not use the cartridges on other animals. Remember that woodchucks are abundant and new animals may try to reoccupy the area later.

Hunting

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.

  • Repellents: Commercial animal repellents such as "Hot Sauce Animal Repellent"®, Hinder®, emetics, and insecticides have been used to deter woodchucks from damaging squash, tomatoes, lettuce, and other crops, generally with minimal success*. Efficacy may relate to palatability and frequency of exposure. Some repellents may not be legal for use on woodchucks or on products used for human consumption. Repellents tend to deteriorate on exposure to the elements and may not be long-lasting. Poisons of any kind should never be used. Not only is it illegal to use poisons to eliminate wildlife, even if the animals are in a building, but woodchucks may only be sickened by poisons, and dead, poisoned woodchucks may cause secondary poisoning of raptors, domestic pets, and other scavengers.
  • 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.
  • 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.

*Please note that brand names are used for illustrative or comparative purposes only. This is not a specific recommendation by the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife.