The feeding and burrowing habits of groundhogs may conflict with human land uses. They feed in hay or crop fields, home gardens, orchards and nurseries; and the burrows and mounds may be hazardous to farm equipment or to horses and riders. For these reasons, control measures may be necessary.
Shooting. Groundhogs may be legally hunted in Missouri in season and may be taken in unlimited numbers by properly licensed hunters. Landowners and hunters should agree on arrangements that will be mutually satisfactory and that will avoid unsafe shooting practices. Make every effort to utilize the carcass. A young medium-sized groundhog makes excellent table fare if properly prepared.
Gas Cartridges. Gas cartridges, which produce a fumigating gas when burned, may be used in dens by property owners. They are available at farm- and garden-supply stores. These cartridges produce carbon monoxide gas which accumulates in lethal amounts when confined within the burrow system. Carbon monoxide is a humane fumigating gas. Gas cartridges are filled with combustible materials and must be ignited by lighting the fuse. They are not bombs and will not explode if properly prepared and used. Caution: Avoid prolonged breathing of smoke. Sparks may be thrown, so do not use near buildings or other combustible materials.
Instructions for use:
- With a spade, cut a clump of sod slightly larger than the burrow opening and place it nearby.
- Punch five pencil-size holes in the end-cap of the cartridge. Insert fuse to half its length into one of the holes. The cartridge is now ready to use and should look like the illustration.
- Kneel at the burrow opening, light the fuse and immediately place the cartridge as far down the hole as you can. Do not throw it.
- Immediately close the burrow opening by placing the sod, grass side down, over the opening to make a tight seal. (Placing sod grass side down prevents smothering the cartridge with loose dirt). Garbage can covers, sand bags, or other suitable closing devices may be used instead.
- Stand by for three or four minutes and watch nearby holes; plug those from which smoke escapes. Repeat until all burrows are closed.
Trapping. Missourians may trap groundhogs that are damaging property. Groundhogs may be trapped with steel leg-hold traps or with live traps made of wood or wire mesh. A No. 1 l/2 coil-spring trap is needed. Bury leg-hold traps in front of the entrance of burrows by sifting dirt over the traps. Be sure that all traps are firmly staked to prevent the animal from dragging the trap into the burrow. If a live trap is used, suggested baits are apples, a slice of cantaloupe, or other fruit. A live trap is preferred in areas frequented by pets. Inspect all traps at least daily for humane reasons.