USDA National Wildlife Research Center Symposia


Date of this Version

August 1995


Woodchuck (Marmota monax) damage to lawns, gardens, orchards, and other agricultural areas is of concern to homeowners and fanners throughout the northeastern region of the United States. Currently, the only effective control methods are live-trapping and relocation, shooting, or lethal trapping. Each of these techniques, though effective, has drawbacks that limit its use in residential areas. Using odors to repel the animals could provide a nonlethal option to help mitigate the vegetation and property damage caused by these animals. For this reason, we studied the repellency of several commonly available odorants to repel woodchucks. Nine different burrow sites were tested during April, May, and June 1995 on the Vassar College campus (Poughkeepsie, NY). Testing occurred in daily 3-hr sessions between the hours of 0700 and 1100 or 1400 and 1900. The two ends of the apparatus were baited with bowls containing approximately 30 g of fresh green peppers. Strips of filter paper containing 0.1 ml of odorant or distilled water were placed at the edges of the bowls. Geranium oil, d-pulegone, coyote (Canis latrans) urine, and Deer-Away® were all effective repellents (P< 0.05). Cinnamon leaf oil, pennyroyal oil, and Siberian pineneedle oil were not. The data suggest that at least some odorants may be effective in reducing woodchuck damage.