Relocating a Woodchuck?

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Add Marmota monax to the growing list of urban wildlife. Anyone know anything about the most humane way to deal with woodchucks? I've seen threads elsewhere about relocating squirrels and other critters, so maybe someone here might know.
Now, ordinarily I wouldn't care all that much if there was a woodchuck living nearby, but one has decided to take up residence in my garage! (It's an old garage with a gravel floor). I know where I can rent a live trap... is there anything I need to know about relocating? (I know plenty of vacant/rural areas I could relocate it to). Are they territorial, and are they able to dig their own burrows quickly?
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On 22 Sep 2004 22:17:48 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com (OhSojourner) wrote:

If I had me groundhog aka woodchuck living i my garage I would certainly make room for him in my deep freezer.......
Yep they can probably have a new burrow dug before you can get back to your own property......... Visit my website: http://www.frugalmachinist.com Opinions expressed are those of my wife, I had no input whatsoever. Remove "nospam" from email addy.
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On 22 Sep 2004 22:17:48 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com (OhSojourner) wrote:

Better make sure it's a STRONG live trap. Woodchucks are powerful animals, and if there's a weak spot in the trap they will find it and pull the trap apart to escape.

They are territorial, but very flexible.
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I don't know about where you live, but in my municipality in NJ there is a $2000 fine for relocating wild animals. They say it is because of promoting the spread of rabies to other areas. We just call animal control in our town and they come pick him up and dispose of him.
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A Hav-a-hart trap is a nice thing to own. I've captured and released numerous woodchucks, squirrels, possums and raccoons from mine. I take them to a nearby state park. I would recommend getting the largest trap (~$50). Mine is next to largest and I had to give up on a big raccoon. If animal is too big for trap, it will not close. Some may tell you that relocating the animal may endanger it. Me: I don't care ;) Frank
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it's not that you are endangering the animal you relocate, it's that you are endangering *all* the animals in the area you relocate an animal *to*. while the wildlife population in your area may be resistant to certain diseases, that may not be true of animals in the area you move the animal to, hence spread of disease. the best thing to do with an animal that is causing you trouble is just kill it & get it over with. you aren't doing it or any other animal a kindness by 'relocating'. besides, what makes you think anyone else wants *your* problem? if it's destroying your property, why take it elsewhere to ruin someone else's property? lee
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I have shot my share of groundhogs, but destroying them is like destroying a grain of sand. Every time you destroy one, two take its place. I have been doing this for 40 years. What does good is if you know where the groundhogs hole is, you can kill them and bury them in their own hole and other groundhogs will not use that hole. I did that. Now they are living in an outhouse, a barn, and under some creeping juniper next to our house.
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Killing is certainly an option but not for me, viz my wife objects. I do have a neighbor that catches groundhogs in his Hav-a-hart and drowns them. Cage trap is preferred over leg trap which can result in free, crippled animal. Shooting is usually legal but not here as you must be 200 yds from occupied dwelling. Trap and release is legal here but not everywhere. I doubt the disease argument because we're only relocating a few miles away. Animals do have their ranges. Only one I know is whitetail deer, which I hunt, and they spend their lives within about a square mile. In my experience, groundhogs stay close to home but I'm not sure about the others. Frank
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hello
i just wondered if i could have a young woodchuck / groundhog if you going to kill it or relocate it. relocating an animal is quit stressful and in the long run, domesticating it would be better.
Abs x
-- Absterama
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Some of my best friends are woodchucks. Trust me, they don't like domestication. They will, however, _move_ if there's something in it for them: like more veggies and a comfortable hammock. :->
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Absterama wrote:

make a mess. When anyone cam in, it hid in the pantry. It got out one day and a german shepherd got after it. It ran up a small apple tree. When the dog's owner came to get his dog it ran up his legs into his arms. The guy didn't know what was happening and slung the critter to the ground. The dog got him. A lot of people got a kick out of the not so little bugger. It takes a lot of cleaning up and tolerance to keep something like thatas a pet.
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Don't forget the skunks that love these traps. The unfortunate thing is that you usually have to destroy the skunk when you weren't really after it in the first place. No matter how you handle it, it is a real stinker.
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S. M. Henning wrote:

I've caught several skunks in the traps. I generally just wait until noon, walk quietly up to the trap and open it slowly, placing a brick under the door so the skunk can see that it's open after I leave. None of them even tried to spray. The skunk may not leave right away. There's generally a brick handy because I place a brick on the door of the large Hav-a-hart traps to (1) keep it from sticking open (since eventually the trap gets old and bent up) and (2) knock the trapped animal more forcefully into the trap. I've lost a couple of animals when I didn't use the brick.
Skunks are nocturnal and don't do well in the daylight. If you're really worried, you can hold a tarp in front of you when you walk up to the trap. The skunk has to raise its tail to spray, and that's hard to do inside the trap, so if you see the skunk getting agitated, just back off and wait for it to settle down. The skunk will generally indicate annoyance by pounding the ground with its front feet. If you use the tarp, you can cover the trap while you open the door. That way the only thing exposed is your hand.
Tomato juice is not very effective at eliminating skunk smell, although it will reduce it. There are a couple of remedies based on hydrogen peroxide. One is 1 qt peroxide (3%, the kind you find in the grocery store), 1/4 cup baking soda (not baking powder) and a shot of detergent. Don't get it in your eyes. Use mixture right away. It doesn't keep.
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wrote:

Excellent advice. This happened to me with my first home made trap. I did not want to spring the $40 or so for a Hav-a-hart and it was more difficult to let the skunk out. My wife suited up with rain gear while I was at work calling around and removed door and ran. Skunk remained in trap for a while and left later. I understand now that skunks do not spray when confined but I would not take chance of transporting when in trap. Frank
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Frank Logullo wrote:

I wouldn't bother relocating skunks. They don't bother your vegetables or flowers and if they dig up your lawn it means you have grubs so they're doing you a favor. The lawn will recover from small holes better than it will recover from grubs.
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That's the best advice. Relocating a skunk often results in its death in an unfamiliar & "already taken" territory, plus two or three skunks or a racoon will start competing for the vacated territory so a gardener with an ideal skunk habitat will soon have multiple skunks instead of just one with an established territory of its own. If trapped spring or summer, there may well be a litter of kits that will die when the mother never returns. In my state it is entirely illegal to live-trap & relocate wild animals because it causes more problems than it resolves. Many other states have similar laws & a few states allow it only with a relocation permit, which is hard to get unless you can prove you know what you're doing.
Skunks are innocuous in gardens, not apt to spray unless cornered & threatened with nowhere to run, will not spray in conditions that cause them to spray themselves, will not spray if physically picked up expertly (forcing their tail under their butt). They eat insects primarily, & if they dig conical holes in the lawn, they've kindly informed the homeowner that the lawn is harmfully infested. Up to two-thirds of a skunk's diet will be insects harmful to humans or gardens. They have been known occasionally to tear the hell out of a sunflower garden to get the oily seeds, but being incapable of climbing would be more apt to look for oily seeds on the ground under birdfeeders.
One somewhat realistic fear is that a dog will corner it, which means only you will need to keep a recipe nearby so the dog can be effectively cleaned (a dash of liquid soap & a fourth-cup of baking soda in a quart of 3% hydrogen peroxide is what it will take). No permanent injury is done by skunk scent, & it is exceedingly rare that a dog ever harrasses a skunk a second time. An "appropriate habitat" for a skunk has no dog in it, so the skunk will only rarely settle into an area that is a dog's territory, though if predictable amounts of dogfood are put outdoors daily for a dog, a brave skunk may take its chances to share in the kibble.
It is rare that skunks spray people because skunks give several warnings beforehand: they make a cute little growling sound as they stamp the ground with their forelimbs, fluff out their tail & turn sideways to make themselves look as big as possible, stand on their hind legs & wave their wee clawed hands, & spit like a cat. These behaviors give the human or predator two or three warnings to come no nearer, as skunks do not like to spray because they dislike the odor themselves, & don't want to muck up areas they hunt in or live in. Humans usually know to back away. Only really stupid humans, or dogs having their first such encounter, will next have the amusing pleasure of seeing the skunk drop its tail over its own face & do a sudden handstand, squirting six to ten feet with surprising accuracy right in the face.
Skunks are very mellow creatures & never attack, but if a skunk is behaving strangely, aggressively, or wandering about in the daylight hours, it could well be diseased. So the second realistic worry would be in regions where skunks are known to carry rabies or distemper, in which case one of the most dangerous things anyone could do is catch one in a live trap. In most states, rabies & distemper are NOT a problem with skunks or racoons, but wherever such disease outbreaks are occurring, it is important to avoid skunks & racoons.
Skunks don't hang around long in one yard unless it really is an ideal skunk habitat, & there are several ways to keep skunks from regarding one's yard as ideal. Skunk attractants are availability of food including fallen fruits, infested lawns, accessibility of petfood, accessibility of garbage. They'll knock your yard off their food-hunting route if lawn infestation or other food resources are removed from the equation. Skunks prefer their den to be a considerable distance from their food-hunting grounds, so usually they EITHER hunt food in the lawn & garden by night, OR live in the woodpile or under the shed by day, but don't den & hunt in the same place. Suitable daylight hiding places for a den include openings to get under porch, house, trailor, or shed, dense brush or briars, woodpiles or rockpiles, or fallen trees. They rarely hunt food where there's a dog outdoors by day, & rarely den where there's a dog outdoors at night.
As a kid, I used to care for & sell domesticated skunks, & as a result I was once brought a litter of wild baby skunks whose mother had been killed. For the first fifteen minutes of playing with the wild babies, they could be induced to do handstands & pretend to spray, but were not old enough to spray. After that first fifteen minutes, they figured out they were in no danger, & were instantly tame, & no amount of teasing would ever again induce them to take a threatening posture. They make excellent pets if neutered & descented (without spaying or neutering they become territorial when they grow up & make displays against visiting strangers & may bite), but unfortunately the state I live in banned them as pets due to a rabies scare 25 years ago that induced absurd legislative action which has never been repaired.
Most of today's pet skunk farms are in southern states, with domestic strains including albinos or strains with their stripe so wide they are mostly white. The spotted skunk is smarter & livelier than the striped, & just as sweet in captivity but more mischievous because unlike the clumsy striped skunk the lithe spotted is a fairly good climber with a great deal of curiosity about cabinets & whatever else they can get in. When we bought the house we talked about getting a couple of skunks from a southern breeder, because I especially love spotted skunks, one of the sweetest cleverest animals I ever cared for. But we decided it wasn't worth the risk that comes about due to public ignorance about skunks, the risk of having pets taken from us & destroyed if some neighbor became scared they had rabies. People who have pet skunks in Washington or pet ferrets in California have to be secretive about it.
-paghat the ratgirl
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For a good while we knew something was living out in the huge brush pile, but since I rarely go out there I had no idea what it was. It's a skunk. I live it alone, it leaves me alone. The poor animals around here are so traumatized by all the building going on. A few months ago I found out they are building a Walmart in walking distance of our home...about a mile. How the roads will support this, I haven't the foggiest. Oh well.
So, this skunk lives back there, and has plenty to do, eat and the brush pile was put there so animals who have been displaced could seek refuge. Before the skunk, I saw cardinals, wrens, skinks and lizards back there. A corn snake a few times, maybe more than one.
So, I agree with you, paghat the rat girl.
v
On Fri, 24 Sep 2004 11:00:28 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@netscape.net (paghat) opined:

Need a good, cheap, knowledge expanding present for yourself or a friend? http://www.animaux.net/stern/present.html
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Pretty boy skunk awaiting relocation: http://www.wildleathers.com/humor/Skunked.wmv
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Never thought of skunks as source of strange holes in lawn. Incident happened over 10 years ago with trap and there was skunky odor around house that summer but none since. When you set out Hav-a-hart and bait with peanut butter, you have to be prepared to catch anything. I like to relocate groundhogs because of tunnels in property and squirrels and raccoons because they get in bird feeder. Have transported a couple of possums but don't know why ;) Frank
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Frank Logullo said:

Skunk *WILL* spray when confined but only when pushed to the limit. For instance, when they have been wandering around for hours with a cup stuck on their head and someone throws a blanket over them and then claps a 6 gallon bucket down over the blanket and an empty trash can on the bucket. They will spray bigtime. The blanket will be totalled. The bucket and trash can are salvagable with plenty of time in the sun far away from the house. The driveway will need cleaning. You will be OK, but out some $$ hiring someone to take the miserable, smelly skunk away.
I know this thing.
Releasing a skunk from a trap is much, MUCH safer and easier.
PS. McDonald's blizzard cup with the dome lid. I guess they don't want the lid to pop off accidently. REMOVE THE LIDS before discarding.
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