Groundhogs were familiar visitors at my parents’s farm. When I told my father that a groundhog was in the mulberry tree next to the Upper Barn, he thought I was joking him. He saw for himself, however, that a specimen of Marmot monax, indeed, had burrowed into the main trunk of the dying tree, about ten feet above the ground.
Each year, a groundhog, with its home (I finally figured out) under the foundation of the silo on the east end of the Upper Barn, scampered to the nearby pear tree and picked the fruit before I could grab any.
My parents raised cattle and horses. If one of those creatures had hit a groundhog hole—and there were burrows in grazing areas and the possibility was real—the cow or horse would have had to have been “put down.” Thus groundhogs were dispatched by my old man or my male sibling—and, occasionally, by me—as soon as the groundhog revealed itself. I am not proud to say I hunted the creatures. I am familiar with Thoreau’s writing about groundhogs. His prose was poignant.
Unfortunately, groundhogs burrow. Their burrows are problematic. A groundhog took up residence last summer under the deck on the back of my house. I do not own a firearm. The “old methods” of relocating (to a groundhog afterlife) of individual members of M. Monax, as employed on my parents’ farm, are unavailable. Even if I owned a firearm—and, emphatically, I would not—within the City limits use of a firearm, as I understand local ordinances, is prohibited. Even then, I would not use a gun because the population around here is far too dense with humans.
My questions to my readers are:
1) Does anyone know how to relocated a groundhog? I have left notes for it, encouraging it with offers to pay for relocation. There even are photographs of beautiful fields grown heavy with alfalfa—apparently a favorite food of gourmand groundhogs—but have only found, later, chewed up bits of the paperwork outside one of the two entrances to the burrow.
2) Is there a service that does not charge an arm and a leg for such relocation? After all, if one groundhog is relocated, I am confident other groundhogs walking about the area looking for available homes will soon replace the fellow or gal recently moved.
3) Is there a service that will “live trap” the creature? I tried that last summer. A racoon and two pissed-off squirrels (and that racoon wasn’t all that happy) were caught in the trap. Lured by peanut butter and other treats, the unsuspecting creatures heard the snap of the door and were trapped. I think the groundhog sat a few feet away, safe inside its burrow, and chuckled at the spectacle.
4) I tried spraying coyote urine—yes, such substances are sold in stores—and, if anything, the groundhog seemed to enjoy the fragrance, although coyotes are natural predators of groundhogs.
My concern is for the structural integrity of the deck and the foundation of the house.
If anyone has suggestions, please post them. (I also am creeped out when I sit on the deck with the knowledge the groundhog is underneath, staring up at me, plotting nefarious ways of stealing pears from any tree I might plant.)
I have repented of the genocidal days of my youth when a few groundhogs were shot by me. If there are a heaven and hell, I will serve some time in the latter with several groundhogs standing over me with whips, beating me as I reach for a pear—eternally out of reach.
So—please let me know. I figure I will have to fill in the spaces under the deck as follow-up.