How to Get Rid of Chipmunks in my garden
We are being over-run by chipmunks, and from talks with my neighbors around town, they are too. There has definitely been a population explosion and now I am trying to find ways to rid my yard of the little critters.
I was shocked to learn that in some states (apparently Pennsylvania) they are protected and you cannot kill them. I haven't been able to find a comprehensive list of which states have protected the chipmunk, so you will have to check with your own State's Department of Environmental Protection. However, I do know that they are not protected in Connecticut so any of the chipmunk control methods outlined here will be Ok for use in CT.
This Hub will focus on an "integrated pest management" approach to getting rid of chipmunks from your yard and garden.
At this point, I am past the "do nothing" phase, the little darlings have already destroyed two lambs ears plants, one hosta, five tomato seedlings and two eggplant seedlings, not to mention numerous sno pea plants before I even realized that they were up to.
I will work on closing holes near my garden, however, living in rocky Connecticut means that rock walls are a permanent feature of our landscape and there's not much I plan to do about it.
Integrated Pest Management Strategies for Chipmunk Control
This excerpt is taken from: Integrated Pest Management Strategies
1. Do nothing. Chipmunks are part of the natural landscape and may be valued for their antics as well as their role in aerating soil, dispersing seeds and as a food source for other wildlife.
2. Close holes in foundation walls and other ground level openings if chipmunks are entering buildings.
3. Remove food sources such as pet food bowls or bird seed and reduce attractive habitat sites such as rock piles or fallen logs.
4. Live trap chipmunks if the population is overwhelming. Bait the trap with peanut butter, nuts, sunflower seeds or oats. The chipmunks need to be released at least a mile from the capture area. Released animals may not survive especially if captured at the end of the growing season when they are being moved away from their winter cache. This may be a temporary solution as other chipmunks will move into the area.
5. Use a rat trap with bait similar to the live trap. This method will kill the chipmunk and although chipmunks are protected, they may be controlled in this manner when they cause property damage.
6. Poisoned baits are not recommended since chipmunks are a food source for other animals. Using a firearm to control chipmunks may be forbidden by local ordinances.
Close Chipmunk Holes or use Chipmunk Repellent
Closing the holes of chipmunks near foundations or other structures is probably an excellent idea, you never know how far and wide their tunnels go. Another method is to use some type of repellent. I have heard that Moth Balls are effective as is the powdered urine of predators (fox, cougar, etc.)
I am using both methods on the chipmunk tunnels near my vegetable garden. One problem with using repellents is that they must be used repeatedly and after a while they may become less effective.
Another repellent method is to use pepper spray or a spray with bitrex, thiram, or ammonium soaps (only on items NOT intended for human consumption, that is, not on your veggie plants!) I tried cayenne pepper on the crocus bulbs I planted last Fall, but it didn't seem to help, they were planted near the rock wall (chipmunk central) and didn't survive to sprout in Spring.
I have also read that wrapping bulbs and shrubbery in a wire mesh can prevent chipmunk damage. I will wrap my bulbs this Fall to see if that helps.
Barn Cats for Getting Rid of Chipmunks
Another option would be to get a "barn cat" which are often cats rescued from being wild feral cats. You don't have to have a barn to have a barn cat, a shed or other outdoor shelter is fine. These cats are semi-wild and need to have an outdoor home. The good news is, they are usually excellent hunters and can help curtail your chipmunk population.
Since my "informal survey" of friends and neighbors indicates that for us, the chipmunk population explosion is very widespread, trapping chipmunks to try to bring them live to a new environment is not really an option.
You can use rat traps baited with peanut butter - several websites recommended putting the peanut butter into a mesh bag tied into the trap to ensure the chipmunks get caught. Avoid the use of poison whenever possible.
Another method of trapping is shown in the video below. My sister has had a lot of success with this "walk-the-plank" method.
From the Michigan Department of Agriculture:
Shooting is a most effective control method if only a few chipmunks or ground squirrels are involved. Small gauge shotguns or air-operated pellet rifles are the most desirable weapons. Early morning or late afternoon are the best hunting periods. Check with local police officials for shooting regulations.
And from UnitedWildlife.com
Where shooting is legal, use a smallgauge shotgun or a .22-caliber rifle with bird shot or C.B. cap loads. Chipmunks are nervous and alert, so they make difficult targets. The best time to attempt shooting is on bright sunny days during the early morning.