For three summers now, VH and I have been battling woodchucks. It started when we found a woodchuck climbing — yes, climbing — in the tree near our front door.
He was a big sucker, easily outweighing the miniature dachshund we had at the time. Since I wasn’t a big fan of that dog, I wasn’t terribly bothered by the thought of the woodchuck beating the crap out of it. I, on the other hand, had no desire to tangle with the thing. So off we went to Animal Control where they provided us with a humane trap and instructions on its use.
After catching (and releasing) first a raccoon and then a large rabbit, we finally caught the darned thing and took it, as instructed, to Animal Control. Naturally, I wanted to know what would become of the furry little bugger. That’s when I learned that Animal Control’s policy is to release them back into the wild, but where the “wild” is they wouldn’t say.
Two days later we spotted another woodchuck on our front step. Or, at least, I’m assuming it was a different one. For all I know the original one may have found his way back to our house from his undisclosed location. But that second sighting is, I can fairly say, when the battle lines were clearly drawn… in urine.
See, I’d read that urine repels woodchucks: coyote, fox, even human (preferably male) urine. Well, since we’ve got a near endless supply of the latter, I figured it was cheaper to load VH with beer and point him toward the front garden than bother with all those “humane traps” or some other animal’s pee.
It worked, too. Or, at least it did until one Saturday when he and a buddy were throwing back a few beers on our deck and got it into their minds that two o’clock in the afternoon was a good time to pull “woodchuck duty”. Thus ensued a bit of a row when I realized two grown, mostly inebriated men were urinating in my garden in plain sight of the neighbors. I handed them cans and encouraged them to be more discrete. They tried to comply. Really, they did. But apparently peeing into a large can and then carrying it without spilling is too big of a task for two drunken men. So, rather than shock all the neighbors, I abandoned that plan.
Not surprisingly, the woodchuck returned.
Since then, one of the critters has started himself a nice burrow at the base of our foundation. I hear him from time to time, burrowing away, claws scratching at the cement wall. The other day I spotted him, too: he’d stretched out on our front step to sun himself like a cat, head resting on his paws, without a care in the world. I’d thought to point him out to my son — the things are cute, after all — but by the time I’d found the boy and my camera, the woodchuck had disappeared.
(Side note: I’m sitting on my back patio right now while typing this. Guess what I just saw? Yep, the woodchuck. He’s staring at me, too. When, oh when, will I learn to keep my cell phone with me?)
Anyway, if I sound a bit obsessed with ridding our home of woodchucks I have a good reason: the one that’s burrowing out front has managed to dig himself a nice, large den and has apparently started a family.
How do I know? Because yesterday morning I saw not one, not two or even three but four — four — baby woodchucks sitting on my front step. Unfortunately, the Big-Eyed Boy saw them, too, and decided they’re adorable. So now, despite my repeated admonitions, he keeps sneaking outside to leave fruit and vegetables for them. His fruit and vegetables, from his lunch plate. (Yes, I’ll be keeping an eye on him now that I’ve figured out what’s going on.)
And as for our War on the Woodchucks? It’s over. I know when we’re beat. The fuzzy little family has managed to turn one of my own into their biggest fan, which means all thoughts of hunting them down like some homeowners do are out of the question.
So, to my next door neighbor (no, not the crazy one) who occasionally reads this blog, let me just point out that on Friday nights my husband typically has a few beers. This week I’m going to encourage that “few” to turn into “several”, after which I’m putting him back on woodchuck duty. If you see him peeing outside, please don’t think poorly of us. Just give your husband some beers and have him do the same thing, or our woodchuck problem may become yours!