Hello fellow readers,
“Help! A woodchuck is eating my trees,” writes Lucia, “and he’s moved in right near my front door where there’s a deep hole about a foot in diameter. So I think, do I bake a cake, bring some wine or what? Who can I call to help him move to the San Diego Zoo?
Sincerely, Crowded in Blairstown.”
What wit Lucia has, who lives across the brook from me; hence her dilemma could also be mine.
While they are known to eat a twig or two, the name woodchuck has nothing to do with wood and but is likely derived from the Native American words wejack, woodshaw, or woodchoock. Woodchucks (also called groundhogs) prefer soft plant tissue such as grasses, dandelions, clover, vegetables, and leaves. My bet is you have a beaver eating the trees and a groundhog living by your front door. Quite a party – maybe you should bake a cake!
Woodchucks build remarkable homes with multiple exits and chambers. Beavers, on the other hand, burrow into banks with entrances to their dens underwater. The beaver, Castor Canadensis, is North America’s largest rodent and can readily chew and drop trees up to 2.5 feet in diameter or more. A beaver will drop a large tree at the edge of a river or creek to begin a dam,(uh oh Lucia, we have that!), which serves as a foundation and a filter to catch the floating debris the beaver will harvest upstream.
There is no spray or device to deter your hefty invaders, and while you can prevent tree gnawing by wrapping chicken wire around the trunk, it’s tough to do on 100 trees.
Eviction is the only practical way. For woodchucks, have a heart (the trap that is) or don’t have a heart. It’s up to you and your dog but please don’t tell me about it. There’s something about being fuzzy.
Beaver removal is trickier, and you’ll need a permit from the NJ Division of Fish & Wildlife to do yourself. I’d suggest leaving it to the experts by contacting their NJ Wildlife Control Unit at 908-735-8793 or the Northeast PA Game Commission office 570-675-1143. The dispatcher there said unless beavers are causing flooding, they give the animal the benefit of the doubt as often beaver move on if they don’t like where they are. Maybe best to skip the cake, Miss Hospitality. Garden Dilemmas? firstname.lastname@example.org
I plan to attend the upcoming 4th of July festivities at Foot Bridge Park in Blairstown and gracious Lucia offered me a seat at the Coldwell Banker table. Please come by and say hello. Happy 4th!