Do Woodchucks Need Permission Slips?

I was visiting my aunt in Massachusetts this summer when I noticed this woodchuck ambling through her backyard. My aunt is a big bird-watcher & I pointed out the woodchuck, thinking it was a good example of what a wildlife-friendly yard she’s maintained.

Instead, the conversation went something like this:

ME: Hey, a woodchuck!

AUNT: I have to call the pest-control guy to take care of that.

ME: Why?

AUNT: (silence)

ME: Is it doing any damage to your yard?

AUNT: Well, no. But he shouldn’t be out there.

I’m sure my aunt had no intention of paying someone her hard-earned money to go after this woodchuck (this is a woman who has never thrown out a Thanksgiving leftover in her life). It was more a reflex, like she was embarrassed someone would see she’d allowed this pest to hang out in her yard.

I’m not a wildlife expert & I’m sure a woodchuck could be a nuisance by … I don’t know, chucking all your wood. But I always find it interesting that, even among nature lovers, animals who don’t have the homeowner’s explicit permission to enter their yard may be seen as a pest. Just ask any backyard birder how they feel about squirrels at their bird-feeders!

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Published: December 6, 2010