Chipping away 0
Almost everywhere you go in Kapuskasing the last little while, you can hear people talking about the chipmunks. Not Alvin, Simon and Theodore, but the real variety, which seems to be becoming a very real problem for a number of homeowners and greenthumbs.
"We've caught six or seven," said one River Heights resident, who asked to remain anonymous because of his preferred method of inhumane traps.
This example is just one of over 18 that have been reported to The Times. Asked what residents were doing to try to get a handle on the situaiton, most replied that they had baited and trapped the critters with rat traps, then disposed of the carcasses.
"Nothing else seemed to be working," said one Northfield resident. "I bought some 'critter ridder' and put that down, then I watched one run right through the stuff, sit up, look at me and go back into his burrow."
Concerns with the chipmunks have mostly stemmed from massacred vegetable gardens. However, several residents have reported to The Times that they are also having issues with with the animals boroughing around their houses, which could cause issue with the exterior moisture membranes on houses.
Although very efficient at climbing trees, chipmunks are almost entirely dependent on an underground network of burrows. These burrows are important to chipmunks year round, not only as natal sites, but for sleeping, food storage, protection from the elements, and hibernation.
Chipmunks usually have two litters a year, one in the spring and one in mid-summer, with an average litter size of four or five young. Most authorities agree that chipmunks will maintain the same burrow for their entire lifespan.
Their tunnels tend to descend sharply for 15 to 20 cm and then after a more gradual descent to a depth of about 65 cm (26 inches). The tunnel "may continue parallel to the surface for up to 3 m before it terminates in an oval-shaped sleeping chamber," which is roughly 32 cm in diameter and lined with leaves.
Several websites offer other, humane ways of getting rid of the problem. These include repellents such as scents that mask human scent, are obnoxious to them or ones that cause them to think predators are in the area. Sprays made with garlic juice, hot pepper, or a powder of fox urine will cover human scent and drive them away. Something as simple as dog or cat feces will make chipmunks think there are predators in the area. Sprinkling bulbs with baby powder or bloodmeal will also repel chipmunks.
You may also capture the chipmunks in your yard with a live trap by baiting a small cage measuring 10 inches to 16 inches in length with a bait made from nuts, peanut butter or sunflower seeds. Once caught, the animal may be release into a rural area several miles away. Also remember that if you begin feeding the chipmunks they will return repeatedly.
"We always encourage people to use humane traps," said Mick Gauthier, an officer with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources' Invasive Species division. "But people are well within their rights to trap them with the rat traps to rid of them if that's the way they want or feel they have to go."
Asked whether or not Animal Control had received any calls regarding nuissance chipmunks, officer Estelle Bérubé said they had not, but qualified her response.
"No, but we don't deal with chipmunks and awful lot. A lot of people don't even think to call us for something like that, so just because we haven't gotten any calls about it doesn't mean there isn't a problem. But we only usually get a few calls about that kind of thing per year and these numbers sound pretty high," she commented. "We're not equipped to trap them, so we encourage people to use humane traps and relocate them."
Bérubé said humane traps small enough to nab chipmunks are available at Canadian Tire and most hardware stores, as are rat traps.