Can I Shoot a Groundhog on My Property?

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Groundhogs are permitted to be shot if they are causing damage by encroaching into personal property. Worldwide, wildlife has protection under strict laws and regulations. However, such restrictions are relaxed if bothersome animals such as groundhogs and other varmints damage personal property. Thus, shooting nuisance groundhogs on personal property is justified.

Groundhogs belong to the rodent family. They form the largest members of the squirrel family, with both bearing the same characteristics. Groundhogs also live in a variety of habitats, thanks to their guileful behavior.  You’ll always find them around meadows, crop fields, and yards that are close to forest edges. Groundhogs are considered territorial animals, except only during breeding seasons. 

Understanding the Difference Between Groundhogs and Squirrels

Though they possess almost similar characteristics, don’t mistake a squirrel for a groundhog. Yes, they are in the same general family but much distinct in their different ways. So often, many property owners mistake a squirrel for a groundhog and vice versa.

Their most significant difference is the mode of living. Groundhogs are outdoor rodents that prefer making their homes underground. Squirrels, on the other hand, are known to settle anywhere. Provided there is a sizable hole or opening in which they can get through.

Groundhogs also possess a brownish-gray fur, quite different from the squirrels’ reddish-brown. While squirrels are known to remain active throughout the year, groundhogs hide during the cold season. They hibernate during winter and only come out when it’s a new season. Also, groundhogs don’t spread any disease. However, squirrels may transmit diseases by hosting infected ticks and fleas.

Do Groundhogs Cause Much Damage to Property

Groundhogs are property destroyers that shouldn’t be allowed near your property. They are herbivores with a huge appetite for different crop plants. A mature groundhog is capable of decimating an entire garden by taking single bites on multiple plants. You may never realize the damage they’ve caused until it’s late. This, thanks to their typical behavior to hibernate.

One of their biggest damage to property is the digging of burrows. They do the digging because that’s where they hibernate to when it’s wintertime. Groundhogs can create complicated caves that cover a vast area within the yard. These burrow tunnels are safety hazards and also cause major structural issues.

The presence of groundhogs on the property also poses a considerable danger to your pets. They stay in their burrows for years learning their environment. Pets that are out and about on their own are usually potential targets for groundhogs. A rattled groundhog will attack and potentially harm your pet.

There are also instances of power outages brought about by the damage caused by groundhogs. Their underground activity is known to interfere with underground power cabling. Due to their habit of chiseling their teeth, groundhogs bite anything that comes in their way. Such bites on power cables may lead to power outages.

Why Groundhogs Love Invading Your Property

Probably you’re wondering why groundhogs love your property so much. The answer is pretty simple. Groundhogs love good vegetation where they can find their favorite food. Their favorite food includes apples, berries, carrots, lettuce, and corn. If you’re a farmer growing the mentioned crops, be ready for groundhogs on your farm.

They consume a lot of this food when they are about to go into hibernation. At this point, groundhogs perform some marvelous engineering by digging their underground homes. They dig the burrows next to their food sources. It always proves difficult for a farmer to control the disturbance of groundhogs on his property. This is if they’re thriving on the available green stuff.

How to Tell Groundhogs are on Your Property?

Some people get to realize groundhogs are camping on their property when it’s too late. This is necessitated by the usual nature of groundhogs going into seasonal hibernation. They are animals capable of devouring your farm without getting noticed. They effortlessly slip into their tunnels after chewing the plants. Hence, the best way is to look out for the signs of damage caused.

Bite marks on the plants and gouged-out crops are critical indicators of groundhogs on your property. Expect to see this during summer when they are out in large numbers. They usually attack the crops chewing out everything in preparation for hibernation during winter. You may never see these signs of damages during winter as they seldom move out of their burrows.

They have habits of eating in the early mornings and late evenings. Groundhogs will also gnaw and claw at fruit trees during these feeding times. Look out for the signs on the fruit trees of your garden. They are known to love wearing down the perpetual growth of their incisors by gnawing at trees. When you spot such marks, it is almost definite your property has groundhogs.

How to Control Groundhogs from Invading Your Property?

As they say, prevention is always crucial when taking a control measure. Such is the case for groundhogs who invade your property time and again. The best way to eliminate them is by adopting a few control measures. The measures ensure they don’t return to your property and cause more damage. Some of these control measures include;

Consider Fencing

Mounting a fence is one of the sure ways of denying groundhogs access into your property. A good fence needs to be made from standard material that is reinforced with additional specifications. This ensures the groundhogs don’t scale the fence or dig underneath.

Make New Food Sources.

Coming up with new food sources elsewhere is also a good step towards controlling the invasion of groundhogs. The introduction of new food sources far away from your property diverts their attention. They’ll instead flee your yard and head there in numbers.

Getting Rid of Groundhogs Off Your Property

Apart from their accepted shooting under the law, there are multiple other ways. Some of these ways include;


A common way of capturing groundhogs involves the use of traps.  Most property owners prefer using live traps. These are covered in grass or dark canvas at the entrance of the burrows. Some traps involve baits such as apple pieces, carrots, and cabbages. 


Fumigation of toxic gases into the burrow systems is also a measure used to get rid of groundhogs. However, it has to be under strict adherence to laws guiding the usage of fumigants on animals.


Groundhogs are a huge nuisance to property owners. Although shooting them is allowed under law, it is not the only solution in fighting their invasion. The best way to eradicate their menace is by focusing on control measures that limit their dominance on your property.

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