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January 31, 2012

Celebrate Groundhog Day!

Live in harmony with your wild neighbors

The Humane Society of the United States

  • groundhog

    Whether Phil sees his shadow or not, there will still be six more weeks of winter. iStockphoto.com

  • Scare-Eye balloon

    Scare-Eye® balloons can be effective in frightening groundhogs. Janet Snyder/The HSUS

  • Irri-tape

    Lengths of shiny ribbon like this Irri-tape®, blowing in the breeze can be can also be a groundhog deterrent. Janet Snyder/The HSUS

  • garden barrier

    This woodchuck-proof garden is a mere 25 feet from an active burrow. Laura Simon/The HSUS

  • A little tolerance sprinkled with a few simple tricks will discourage unwanted groundhog activity and make relations peaceful again. iStockphoto.com

We celebrate Phil in February, but by June many people are looking at him and worrying about their gardens.

Groundhogs (also known as woodchucks) hibernate from October through February. When they emerge from their burrows to start breeding, they also start dining on plants and digging burrows—activities their human neighbors don't always appreciate. 

Lend groundhogs a hand! Use a few simple (and humane) tricks to keep them from hogging your garden—and help keep the peace with your neighborhood woodchucks.

Scare Them Away

Discourage frequent visits to your garden by placing objects in the area that will reflect sunlight and continually move in the breeze. Tethered shiny party balloons, “animal scaring” balloons with faces, or a length of shiny ribbon or Irri-tape® tape work well. 

More common woodchuck problems and solutions »

Exclude Them

Groundhogs don’t like to climb unstable fences, so install a 3 to 4 foot-high “floppy” barrier around a garden. Use 16-gauge 2" x 3" garden wire fencing, and make an “L” shape that extends the mesh outward parallel to the ground by 12 inches. Pin this portion securely to the ground with landscaping staples to keep them from digging under the fence. Don’t pull the top portion of the mesh taut when securing it to fence posts—you want it to wobble if groundhogs try to climb it.

Displace Them

If you want to move groundhogs permanently away from your yard or garden, you’ll have to disrupt the burrows in which they live. Don’t do this unless you are certain there are no dependent young in the burrow. Steps outlining how to do this humanely can be found here.

Resources

» Learn more about groundhogs.
» Turn your outdoor space into an Urban Wildlife Sanctuary.
» Purchase a copy of Wild Neighbors, the go-to guide for useful, humane solutions to conflicts with wildlife. 
» If you are located within the D.C. Metro Area, take advantage of our wildlife conflict resolution service.

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