Groundhog Control

If a groundhog infestation is wreaking havoc in your garden, consider one of these methods of groundhog control.

| May/June 1979

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The method of groundhog control you prefer will depend on whether you want to coexist with, eliminate, or eat the little critters.


Sooner or later, most every farmer or homesteader runs smack up against the problem of one or more marauding groundhogs. The burrowing busybodies may only weigh 5 to 12 pounds, but — once they've found you — these unstuffable greens lovers can carve their way through your vegetable garden, your hay field, and even your flowerbed!

As if that's not enough devilment, the energetic rascals (scientists call 'em Marmota monax down east and Marmota flaviventris out west, but the locals call 'em woodchucks, rockchucks, marmots ... or just plain trouble) dig billions of pounds of dirt a year. A cow, a horse, or even a human can easily break a leg in one of their steep den entrances. Heck, tractors have been known to overturn in collapsed burrows.

Of course, groundhogs aren't all bad. They do aerate the soil, provide dens for other wildlife, and — come February — signal the end of winter. But when a family of the earth-sheltered squatters decides to belly up to your butterbeans, you have to do something about it. Here are a few methods of groundhog control.

Give a Groundhog a Garden

The most considerate was to deal with a problem 'chuck would be to simply plant the critter a garden of its own. Just find the ground-grubber's burrow holes (a den may have as many as five) and sow some nearby crops of those woodchuck favorites, alfalfa and clover. This cooperative approach won't keep the mining marmot from digging more holes (and I can't even swear he'll stick to his greens and stay out of yours) but — for folks who're opposed to sterner measures — it's certainly worth a try.

Take a Woodchuck to Lunch (Somewhere Else)

Some folks transport their groundhog problems away. This isn't as big a moving job as it may seem, because the territory-minded rooters either live in one-family units, or bunk alone and "batch it." So, if you can capture your current landmates, drive them away to wilderness country, and then plug their vacant holes (to keep any home-seeking "buck" chucks from moving right in), your troubles may be over.

The best way to capture the mammals is to use a live animal trap. [EDITOR'S NOTE: The Havahart people make a darn good "catcher." Or you might read This Humane Trap Can Guard Your Vegetable Patch! and build your own!] Such devices won't harm the marmot or any other innocent critters who stray in. Simply bait the cage with vegetables (use all the tricks you can think of to keep your "giveaway" human scent off the trap), then set it in a likely spot and wait for results. One more tip: When you finally release the furry felon, keep your mitts away from its teeth!

6/11/2010 2:51:12 PM

You commented that these groundhogs are up to 12 lbs. I beg to differ; we grow them much larger in Missouri!! The last one we trapped was 17 lbs, one we have in our waterfall now is closer to 20 lbs. We've been trapping these for the last 4 years. We have a large boulder waterfall and they love hiding in between the "caverns" of the rocks. I'm hoping they don't cause our waterfall to collapse.

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