The world famous Pennsylvania groundhog is a survivor. This vegetarian animal is a prey species in the food chain, hunted and eaten by by hawks, owls, eagles, coyotes, fox, weasels, bobcats, and other predators. Punxatawney Phil lives in a geographic part of Pennsylvania where you can add people to the list of predators. Poor Phil is either a target, a meal, or both. Good reasons to be paranoid.
This large rodent is not so paranoid in urban & suburban places. It is quite happy living under the deck or shed. In your back yard, it does not worry about predators. It is happy and content to graze and get fat. By the way, female groundhogs will add from one to eight baby "hogs" to your habitat. Oh joy!
What is the harm of groundhogs ?
1. Any warm blooded animal can get rabies. The Pennsylvania Department of Health and the Pennsylvania Game Commission both list the groundhog as a rabies vector species. This means that all nuisance groundhogs MUST be euthanized by law.
2. Groundhogs are born to dig and tunnel underground just like beavers are born to build dams. Some groundhogs dig under buildings causing a floor collapse due to the heavy weight above - such as livestock or heavy equipment.
3. A groundhog is a rodent, and has rodent teeth. It must chew hard things to keep its teeth trimmed. A groundhog chewing your deck is doing what is natural.
4. Groundhogs are abundant. Pet dogs are abundant. Ask your vet the average cost to stitch up a groundhog bitten dog? Dogs love to harass groundhogs. Just because the groundhog is a vegetarian doesn't mean it is a wuss!