Virginia.gov

Groundhog

  • No Kill Permit required from VDGIF.
  • Nuisance Species - continuous open season.
  • No Sunday hunting or killing is permitted
  • You must contact the Commonwealth Attorney's office in your county/city for information regarding legal methods of animal removal. Local ordinances are usually more restrictive than state laws.

Groundhogs are excellent diggers; they dig both simple and complex burrow systems. Most burrows are 25 to 30 feet long and from two to five feet deep, with at least two entrances. The main entrance is often the most conspicuous, with a large mound of freshly dug dirt nearby. The other, less visible entrances are used for escape purposes. A nesting chamber for sleeping and raising the young is found at the end of the main tunnel; a separate toilet chamber helps keep the burrow clean.

During the warmer months, groundhogs are commonly seen in the early morning or late afternoon. They rely on their keen hearing and sense of smell to give them enough time to escape to their dens when danger is near. They can be fierce fighters when cornered by their enemies, which include man, dogs, coyote, foxes, bear, hawks and owls, bobcat, mink and weasels.

Groundhogs may cause:

  1. damage to crops caused by feeding in farm fields and/or home gardens,
  2. burrow holes and dirt mounds which hamper operation of farm equipment and can pose a threat to horses and livestock, and
  3. damage to fruit and ornamental trees caused by gnawing for scent marking or clawing to wear down the winter growth of their teeth and sharpen their claws.

Mitigating Groundhog Damage

  • A fence at least three feet high will keep most groundhogs out; however, they may try to burrow under the fence. It is recommended that the fence extend underground another one to two feet. They have also been known to climb over fences, in which case a one-foot extension that is bent outward at a 90-degree angle should be added to the top of the fence.
  • Clear fallen fruit from around trees.
  • It is illegal in the State of Virginia to trap and relocate an animal to another area.
  • Contact your local health department if animal exhibits signs of rabies such as stumbling, foaming at the mouth or aggression.

If these techniques do not solve the problem, you can contact a licensed trapper or a critter removal service, which you can find in your local phone directory.