Has something been gnawing on your trees? Are there large bites out of your vegetables? Most importantly, is there a mysterious 10-12 inch hole near your garden? If so, you may have a ground hog problem.

The ground hog (also called the woodchuck) is a pest every gardener abhors. Unfortunately, if there is one there is always more nearby. These rodents are perceptive enough to avoid rat poison and agile enough to burrow under gates. Instinctively avoiding these traps, the ground hog seems to outsmart the humans trying to exterminate them. If you find yourself angrily cussing at a hole in the ground and the vegetable thieving, garden-ruining creature inside, it’s time to bring out the big guns.

The simplest way to protect your vegetables is to make some adjustments to your fence. Using a chicken wire fence, bend the bottom half at a 90-degree angle. Be sure each half of the gate is about three to four feet high. Bury one half of the fence. At this point, you should have a four-foot fence perpendicular to the ground, and you should have at least three feet of fence parallel to the ground just a few inches beneath the surface. This contraption will prevent the ground hogs from burrowing underneath or clambering over into your garden.

If your gate does not work, the second option is to gas their burrow. There are gas cartridges available at local gardening stores. Each device works differently; some you simply drop into the burrow and others you have to manually activate. However, both drive the ground hogs to another home.

Considered the most humane way to address a ground hog problem is the capture and release method. Typically this task is accomplished with a baited wire cage. For the best results sully the cage before setting the trap. Set the trap about five to ten feet from the burrow and bait it with the vegetables they are stealing. Wait patiently. This method may take several days. Remember: where there is on there is always more. After each capture release them into a wild area near your home. Once the eating sprees have stopped, you can be sure you have captured all of them. Before trying this method, be sure to make sure it is legal in your area. Some places ban the relocation of wild animals.

Obviously, if none of these methods work, calling your local humane society or animal control center are viable options. One last warning before you head off to battle, always use your head. These are wild animals that will protect their homes and children. Always use safety gear and keep a safe distance from these creatures. Don’t forget the marks they have made on your trees. If they can do that to bark, they can do that to skin. Be wary.