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Happy Groundhog Day! Peacefully Exist With our Wild Neighbors

They're abundant locally. Here's how to co-exist with our spring prognosticators.

Groundhog problems?

We queried our Facebook friends to see if there is a problem locally and this is what we learned: Some residents have groundhogs, no problems; other have groundhogs and problems. They are living in backyards, under sheds and have been spotted scurrying across Northampton Road.

You're not a Facebook friend? Oh, the conversations you're missing.

While Chief Groundhog Punxsutawney Phil will make headlines again on Groundhog Day, Feb. 2, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is encouraging people to celebrate the day by learning more about our wild neighbors and the ways to peacefully coexist.

As Phil comes out of his hole after a long winter sleep, groundhogs everywhere are reemerging in gardens and yards throughout the country.  

“People are excited to see Phil on Feb. 2, but within weeks, some homeowners will complain about groundhogs eating flowers and garden vegetables,” Laura Simon, field director of Wildlife & Habitat Protection community programs for The HSUS, said. “With the right tools and a little tolerance, people can easily discourage unwanted groundhog activity in their gardens and peacefully coexist with them.”  

Groundhogs – also known as woodchucks – hibernate from October through February and start breeding shortly thereafter. That means an abundance of groundhogs setting their sights on eating gardens, digging burrows and coming into conflict with their human neighbors.   

Here are Simple solutions to keep groundhogs from hogging their way into your garden:

  • Scare Them – To temporarily discourage frequent visits to your garden, place objects in the area that will reflect sunlight and continually move in the breeze, such as tethered Mylar party balloons, “animal scaring” balloons with faces and big eyes or dangling pieces of Mylar tape.
  • Exclude Them – Since groundhogs do not like to climb unstable fences, installing a wobbly 3 to 4 foot-high mesh barrier around a garden keeps them away permanently. The HSUS recommends using regular green garden fencing, which comes in 16 gauge, 4-foot-tall mesh rolls. This mesh is available at most garden, hardware and home building stores. A trick for success when installing is to extend the bottom 12 inches of mesh outward, parallel to the ground, and pin this portion securely to the ground with landscaping staples. This “apron” will discourage them from digging under the fence. Also, make sure the top portion of the mesh is not taut when securing to fence posts, so it wobbles when challenged, which discourages the groundhogs from climbing over. 

The HSUS Wild Neighbors Program promotes non-lethal means for resolving conflicts between people and wildlife and cultivates understanding and appreciation for wild animals commonly found in cities and towns.

Do you have groundhogs in Cuyahoga Falls? Are they friend of foe?

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