How to trap and remove problem woodchucks in New Hampshire | Woodchuck

How to trap and remove problem woodchucks

Step 1

Photo accompanying step 1

You can trap a woodchuck using a wire cage trap or wooden box trap with minimum dimensions of 10” x 12” x 32”, either single or double door, with the double considered very effective when set as a pass through trap. Set traps at main burrow entrances or along major travel lanes. Use trap covers during hot weather to provide shade as woodchucks are highly vulnerable to heat stress. Bait the trap with apple slices, cantaloupe, other fruits or vegetables such as carrots and lettuce, or use professional paste baits. Change or refresh baits daily.

When food is abundant, woodchucks may not respond to bait. In that case, wire the trap door and bait the trap. After the woodchuck takes the bait once or twice, add new bait and set the trap. Unbaited cage traps set near openings with boards or logs to guide the woodchuck are also effective.

Since woodchucks are active during the day, set the trap in the morning and close or remove it during the night; this will minimize the likelihood of catching a non-target animal that is active at night. Check all traps twice daily, morning and evening, so that captured animals may be quickly removed. 

Step 2

Photo accompanying step 2

Best times to remove woodchucks

When relocating problem woodchucks, take into account the breeding season and the potential for young being left behind. If possible, delay removing the mother until the young are active. Relocation and release of woodchucks is not recommended because the chance of survival is poor. If the animal is released, it should be relocated at least five miles away from the trap site and in an area of suitable habitat where it is unlikely to cause damage problems.

Have a plan before you put out a cage trap

Know what you are going to do with the animal if you catch it

Many homeowners try to resolve wildlife conflicts by using cage traps (such as Havahart® traps) that catch but do not kill the animal. Cage traps can be effective wildlife management tools, but here's the "catch" — before you set that trap, you need to have a PLAN for what you are going to do with the animal and how you are going to do it. It's easy to set a trap, but not so simple to determine how and where to release the animal. Consider these tips BEFORE you set a trap:

  • Call USDA Wildlife Services at (603) 223-6832 for advice on dealing with nuisance animals. Their trained staff will guide you to a workable solution.
  • If Wildlife Services is not able to resolve your problem, they can refer you to a licensed Wildlife Control Operator (WCO) who can resolve the problem for a fee. Some WCOs will pick up trapped animals for a fee. Make arrangements in advance – BEFORE you set a trap.
  • The NH Fish and Game Department does not lend out traps due to the potential for injury from bites, scratches, and disease exposure.
  • NH Fish and Game personnel are not generally available to relocate or remove trapped animals. Responsibility for the transport and release of trapped animals falls to the person who sets the trap. Note that the potential for the inadvertent capture of a skunk is high and that handling skunks requires special skills and an action plan.
  • Individuals handling or transporting wildlife should take precautions to avoid potential disease exposure. For safety reasons and to avoid spreading a disease to a new area, sick animals should not be transported.
  • Do not physically handle a trapped animal or expose yourself to animal bodily fluids, including saliva; this can expose you to wildlife diseases such as rabies.
  • Consider where you place the cage. During summer months, traps should be placed in shaded areas to avoid overheating. During winter months, traps should be protected from wind, snow and excessive low temperatures.
  • Do not leave an animal confined in a cage trap, especially if exposed to heat or cold.
  • Check traps frequently to minimize trauma to captured animals. At a minimum, traps should be checked at dusk and dawn.​

To sum things up, if you are experiencing problems with nuisance wildlife, make sure you have a plan before you employ a cage trap. Know the answer to this question: What am I going to do with this animal if I trap it and how am I going to do it?

Laws and regulations to be aware of

While we attempt to provide guidance about state and federal regulations pertaining to specific species and control techniques, we do not provide information about local jurisdictions (city, town, county, etc.) where regulations may be more restrictive, especially as it applies to discharge of firearms, transport of animals or use of trapping equipment. Contact your local city or county government to inquire further. No guarantee is made that information (or lack of information) associated with a species or control technique is completely accurate or current. You should become familiar with federal, state and local laws before beginning any wildlife control activities.

Was this solution helpful?

Yes No
Presented by these government wildlife management agencies as a trusted source for sound, legal and responsible wildlife control and damage prevention advice