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Greg the Groundhog.
Monday, August 5, 2013
Two weeks ago we tackled the problem of garden-eating groundhogs and asked for readers to chime in with suggestions, and boy, did you.
Before I get to some ideas that people swear by, I'd like to address two common threads of discussion that folks sent my way. Some of you have decided that it's best not to fight the little critters, and say it helps if you see the little marmota monax as friends rather than foes.
Carol Watson of Salem represents this camp, and even sent along a photo of her favorite furry fellow up in a tree eating her cherries. If you doubt the critters' ability to climb, as I did, I've posted a photo on the What's On Your Mind blog that should end your skepticism.
Carol says: "My indoor cat and I have been entertained by our resident groundhog for several years. I gave up setting out flowers and plants some time ago because the deer ate everything except plastic flowers. This spring the mama groundhog came down her trail to my backyard deck with her two young ones. She stops by every morning to scavenge the seeds dropped from the bird feeder. The babies played on the deck like kittens while their mom had her snack."
So if you can't beat 'em, enjoy 'em.
The other category of comments took me to task for what some thought was my promotion of lethal and cruel methods of animal removal. One even compared me to "Hitler's henchmen" for relaying one method of killing that involves using car exhaust. I thought that was a bit strong - it was the first time I've ever been called a Nazi.
Just to be clear, I wasn't advocating killing the little buggers, but simply relaying what methods people DO use. I agree that being gassed or poisoned would not be pleasant ways to die, but as someone who once worked on a dude ranch with a beaver problem that threatened our whole irrigation system, I also know that there are those who have no problem using any means necessary to exterminate animals that threaten crops and livestock.
So, with that out of the way, here are two of what seem like the lowest-cost and most effective ways to remove unwanted groundhogs. One seems a bit cruel, but the other seems worth trying.
Two people said that the best way to get rid of groundhogs is to put chewing gum (one says Juicy Fruit is best) at all of the entrance holes. Even if it works, this seems a little awful to me, since death would be slow and painful as a result of their inability to digest the gum, which, if it works, does so by causing intestinal blockage. Plus, as reader Laura Plunkett suggests, they might just crawl under your house and die, leaving you to deal with a very unpleasant smell.
But finally I heard from the very cheerful Betty Thomas of Pembroke, who at one time had at least nine groundhogs burrowing under her house. She tried trapping and relocating but the problem persisted and she feared for the foundation of her house.
Finally, she heard of a safe, nontoxic method that she says worked for her. She went to the hardware store and got a bag of lime and a bag of sulfur, and mixed them in a bucket in roughly equal amounts. "I poured that lime and sulfur down in those holes and put it all around my building. When they came out they got it on their feet, then licked it and left. They absolutely hate the taste of it and I got rid of every one of them groundhogs and they have never come back again. I guarantee you this lime will get rid of them."
So if you've got groundhogs, why not try the lime and sulfur, and give the gum to a kid instead?
Have a question? An answer? Call "What's on Your Mind?" at 777-6476 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Don't forget to provide your full name, its proper spelling and your hometown.
Look for Tom Landon's column on Mondays. Read the WOYM blog on roanoke.com any time, blogs.roanoke.com/whatsonyourmind.
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