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Garden Pests: How do you get rid of groundhogs?

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If you are a gardener, you already know that some years your garden can feel like a battle zone with you pitted against nature. For most of us, battling bugs is an easy decision, as we really don’t mind seeing them die. But, when God’s bigger creatures, like the groundhog, decide to set up residence, the decisions become more difficult. Few of us are comfortable killing off innocent mammals that choose to dine in the garden.

I’m currently battling a groundhog – or woodchuck if you prefer – who is happily chomping his way through my peppers. My raised bed is quite the sight this morning with green stalks and little peppers standing tall where the groundhog has stripped the plant of leaves. I’m not sure if the plants will revive enough to produce the abundant crop they had promised.

So, how do you repel groundhogs?

Here are some common recommendations and my results with them.

Mothballs: Mothballs are one of my old standbys for repelling unwanted guests in the garden. I’ve had some success convincing snakes to go their merry way – but not so with groundhogs. He simply thumbed his nose and gave a little chuckle as he crossed the line of mothballs. Don’t waste your time with mothballs for repelling groundhogs.

Ammonia: Many sources claim that old rags soaked in ammonia will repel groundhogs, but I’m here to tell you it simply doesn’t work. Groundhogs couldn’t care less and will happily return to dine.

Bobbex-R Animal Repellent: This all-natural animal repellent had no effect on my friendly little groundhog – although it did do a great job of smelling up the yard. In all fairness, it may have deterred him for one night, but after that, he returned regardless of how much I sprayed in my garden.

So, how do you get rid of a groundhog?

Fences: Fences keep groundhogs out, but beware. These creatures can dig under and climb over fences. To be effective the fence must be buried a foot under the ground with the wire (like chicken wire) bent outward on a 90-degree angle to prevent groundhogs from digging under the fence. Likewise, the top of the fence needs a 90-degree angle to prevent him from climbing over. This simply isn't practical for my yard. If you have the time and resources to fence in your garden, this option may be for you.

Trapping: Setting a live trap is always an option, but beware! Some states prohibit catching and releasing groundhogs in a new location. If you chose this option, be kind and release the little guy in a suitable location far away from anyone else’s garden.

Shooting Groundhogs: If you aren’t opposed to harming God’s creatures – or have had your fill of battling a groundhog - most states allow you to shoot nuisance animals, says the University of Wisconsin Wildlife Management Services. Some states, however, consider the groundhog a game animal which means you may need a hunting license to shoot one!

Good luck with whatever method you choose. May your garden be pest free and produce an abundant crop.

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