The previous article shared a few strategies and ideas for quickly trapping groundhogs that have become a nuisance in the backyard garden.
But trapping is only half of the battle, once the critter is caged you still have to determine what to do with it next? To begin with, resist that temptation to take out a little vengeance for all the havoc that the groundhog has caused; remember that this little pig was simply doing what it does best… Eat!
Let Groundhog Bygones be Bygones
I was pretty annoyed when I learned that the greedy groundhog feasting on the veggies in my garden refused to touch a thing in my neighbor’s unfenced garden that was much closer to his home, and instead saved his appetite for my garden.
Whatever his reasoning, I wasn’t at all pleased with that particular groundhog and the favoritism displayed towards my fresh vegetables. Guess I should have taken it as a compliment that Mr. Woodchuck considered my produce to be such an exclusive treat on his menu.
No matter how it may seem to the gardener whose garden in under attack, it really isn’t anything personal and the groundhog is not out to make life miserable, destroy the garden, or cause you to lose all self-control as your cherished plants are wiped out!
Personal Safety Comes First
So rather than exact revenge, let’s just take care to relocate the animal while causing it as little additional stress as possible.
The first step is to keep in mind that you’re dealing with a wild creature, and a trapped animal has the potential of being diseased, or can attack in an effort to escape from its predicament. Be careful to protect yourself and others from harm during the process of capturing and releasing your trapped groundhog.
That includes ensuring that the trap is secure and that fingers are kept outside of the trap at all times. Those teeth aren’t just for eating, and many trapped woodchucks will put on a good display to convince you that they do mean business. You may want to wear gloves but don’t fool yourself into believing that they offer any real protection against an animal bite, scratch, or puncture.
Don’t touch or handle the groundhog and be alert to any indication that it is injured or diseased. If the animal exhibits any sign of sickness or behaves in an abnormal manner contact an animal control officer rather than attempt to release the creature back into the wild.
Ensuring the Welfare of Trapped Woodchucks
Once your safety is accounted for you need to consider the welfare of the animal. Use a live capture trap, such as a Havahart that won’t physically harm the woodchuck. And the time to familiarize yourself with the release procedures for your particular trap is BEFORE there is an animal actually in the trap!
DON’T leave trapped animals unattended for any length of time. You would be unpleasantly surprised by how quickly a caged animal can die from exposure, especially on a hot, sunny day.
Don’t leave a trap set if you will not be available to check it and tend to the animal within a period of a few hours. If there is a temporary delay in releasing a trapped groundhog the trap should be moved to a shady area to provide relief from the ultraviolet sun rays that can be very harmful to a caged animal.
During transport a stressed or agitated animal in a trap can be calmed and quieted by covering the trap with an old blanket or tarp, just make sure that it allows for good air circulation and will not cause overheating.
A Little Groundhog R&R (Release and Relocation)
Before moving and releasing your trapped groundhog it may be a good idea to check out the local state game regulations in your locality.
After contacting the PA State Game Commission in my jurisdiction, I was told that I could release the groundhog pretty much wherever I pleased. That sounded a little odd, but I didn’t ask twice. I did however look around to identify a good location where I felt the animal would be safe and happy upon its release, and would not create a problem for anyone else.
Avoid releasing your pest in residential areas, near active roadways, around other gardens or farmlands, or in environments that would not provide suitable cover, vegetation, and the type of terrain that a groundhog would need in order to survive.
And I could be wrong on this point, but I also try to release the groundhog during daylight hours so the animal can become acclimated, find a new home, and settle down before darkness sets in.
The official Veggie Gardening Tips Groundhog Preserve where I release my trapped woodchucks is located about four miles from my garden. It consists of a sprawling tract of uninhabited land with a varied mix of hills, brush, tree lines, and open fields that should make an ideal home for raising baby groundhogs.
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