How to Get Rid of Groundhogs Humanely: 5 Effective Ways

Are you on the losing end of a groundhog battle?

You are not alone! Ridding your property of these troublesome critters can be frustrating. However, there are ways to accomplish this while still being humane.

These stubborn creatures, also known as woodchucks, whistle-pigs, or land beavers, can cause terrible property damage. They can destabilize building foundations, chew through irrigation systems or wiring, eat up your entire vegetable garden, and ruin your lawn.

Stop the damage by removing groundhogs from your property using the five humane methods below. All the techniques are highly effective, so say goodbye to these pesky creatures!

5 Effective Methods to Eliminate Groundhogs Humanely

Eliminating groundhogs from your property doesn’t require cruel traps or treatments. The following methods are proven to work, yet are much more kind to the animal.

The best time to eradicate groundhogs is early spring before they start mating. 

Method #1: Live Trap

Live traps are the best way to remove groundhogs humanely. After capture, always relocate groundhogs at least five miles from your current location, so they don’t come back.

 Here are tips on using a live groundhog trap:

  • Never touch the trap with bare hands, which will transfer human scent and stop a groundhog from entering
  • Bait the trap with a juicy treat like canteloupe, which provides water and food
  • Weigh down the trap with a heavy object so the groundhog can’t tip the trap and escape
  • Camouflage the trap with leaves and sticks to encourage entry
  • Locate the trap as close to a burrow entrance as possible
  • Always wear thick leather gloves when dealing with a trapped groundhog to prevent scratches and bites
  • Set traps during the morning and afternoon when groundhogs are active. Leaving traps set overnight increases the likelihood of catching nocturnal critters like raccoons 

WARNING: Some areas prohibit groundhog relocation, so check local and state guidelines.

Method #2: Use a Repellant

Groundhogs are finicky when it comes to scents, especially from animals that are their natural predators. This tendency to avoid unpleasant odors is why repellants are very useful to get rid of groundhogs humanely.

You can purchase commercial-made repellents in both liquid or granule form, or opt to make a DIY version at home.

Most repellants comprise of a concentrated form of urine from predators such as coyotes, fox, or even domesticated cats and dogs. These are not toxic and are safe for use anywhere on your property.

Pouring an ammonia mixture down burrow entrances is exceptionally effective to drive groundhogs off. Still, you need to be vigilant about dosing every day for a week until they find a new home elsewhere. Mix three parts water to one part ammonia and squirt in a dash of dish soap.

Dry DIY groundhog repellant options include:

  • Epsom salts
  • Blood meal
  • Used kitty litter
  • Talcum powder
  • Dog or cat fur

How To Apply Repellent

For store-bought repellant, refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for dilution before use. For DIY concoctions, take dry ingredients as is and sprinkle directly onto the ground.

Start by hitting the entrance of every burrow you can find with a sprinkle or spray of repellant.

Follow up by circling the perimeter of your property with the repellant. Then target around appealing areas like a vegetable garden, fruit trees, or hedge lines.

Reapply every week and after rain to keep groundhogs away.

Method #3: Entice Them Elsewhere

Use a two-pronged approach to make your yard less appealing for groundhogs while making another area more attractive.

Groundhogs will visit your yard when they smell fruit from trees or your ripening garden vegetables. Start by keeping fallen fruit off the ground, and harvest vegetables right away. Immediately compost (in a sealed bin) or double-bag plant debris that may entice them.

Mow your yard often and keep bushes and plantings from hanging low. Cut them back to prevent giving groundhogs a safe, hidden path to creep about your yard. 

Lastly, consider using a sprinkler every day to keep the ground moist in spots you detect groundhog activity. Groundhogs prefer to burrow in dry soil near shrub lines or vegetation. Soaking prime areas can drive them out in search of drier land.

The second attack is “diversion.” This tactic works best in a rural setting with open land; don’t sneak over to your neighbor’s yard! If possible, draw groundhogs away from your property by planting some favorite foods like alfalfa, clover, zinnias, or basil a fair distance from your home. 

Method #4: Install Fencing

If your property isn’t too large and your budget allows, installing a fence is a humane way to get rid of groundhogs. 

The trick with fencing to deter groundhogs is to bury a portion of the fence under the ground to stop them from burrowing. 

Chain link fencing is easier to install and will last longer than burying a wooden fence. Some homeowners opt to bury a two-foot-deep section of chainlink, then top it with a wooden fence.

Gaps in the fence should not exceed three inches, and tops of fences should have curves or angles that make climbing difficult. Another trick is to clear away soil about a foot deep and wide directly next to the fenceline and lay down a flat layer of solid metal or a mesh wire barrier. 

Cover the barrier over with soil and plant grass as usual. When a groundhog tries to burrow, it will hit the barrier and give up, thinking it is impenetrable.

Method #5: Scare Tactics

Groundhogs are easily frightened and will avoid areas that are known to cause unease.

To scare groundhogs off your property, install some electronic repellents that use motion-activation to automatically shoot out a harmless spray of water when one gets near. 

Groundhogs also dislike vibration and will relocate a den if the ground shakes a lot. Lawn ornaments like windmills, wind chimes, whirligigs, or other spinning or moving objects will cause enough annoyance to drive groundhogs away.

Some electronic repellants use sonic vibration to deter unwanted animals and are an effective barrier against groundhogs. Toro Products sells solar-power repellant stakes that are easy to pop up around your yard. These work well and are completely humane.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are groundhogs dangerous?

Aside from the damage they cause to property, groundhogs aren’t particularly dangerous to humans.

The animal is known to attack in self-defense, so taking care when live-trapping is imperative to avoid a painful bite. The groundhog can transmit rabies, but this disease is uncommon in most areas and not a top concern. None-the-less, always have a bite treated by a medical professional right away.

The most significant danger from a groundhog is a twisted ankle or broken leg from falling through the soil into a deep burrow. Be mindful of such hazards when groundhogs are active on your property.

Can I fill their burrow with concrete to get rid of them?

Many homeowners think filling a groundhog burrow with concrete will eliminate them, but this is not necessarily true.

If you fill every entrance to a burrow or den with concrete, you will likely trap one or more inside, and they will die off. But, often, the groundhog will just burrow right next to the cement fill and go on about its day.

The real reason you need to fill a burrow with cement (after you get rid of the groundhogs!) is to support loose ground under driveways, foundations, or other structures. 

Burrows can dive over 40 feet down and can displace a ton of dirt. Forcing cement under pressure into extensive burrows is the fastest way to reestablish ground and structural support and prevent property damage.

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