Authored by Douglas Mefford in Pest Control
Published on 08-20-2010
You can find the prolific and adaptable skunk almost as easily in an urban environment as in the countryside. With little to fear from predators, the voracious skunk will always go for where the food can be found. Not counting the overpowering odor created by a frightened skunk, their depredation of gardens make getting rid of the skunks in your vicinity a needful task.
If you haven’t already made the area inhospitable to skunks, fencing the garden and blocking any openings under your house or outbuildings is an essential first step. If you have a compost heap it will need to have a barricade built around it. This does not have to be very high as skunks are neither good climbers nor jumpers. Any outside trash disposal locations also have to be contained or trash put in metal or plastic containers with tight lids. Don’t leave pet food out at night and bird feeders need to be positioned high enough they cannot be raided by a hungry skunk.
Standard chain link fence will only keep skunks out of your yard and garden if you sink the bottom about a foot underground to prevent tunneling under the fence. If you know skunks have moved in under your house or porch, you must wait until they leave to forage at night before closing off the entry holes they are using. You can spread chalk or flour in front of the den to see when the tracks lead away so your unwanted guest will not be trapped to die under your home. Destroying dens or preferred habitat in the local vicinity also cuts down on the incidence of skunk infiltration. Be aware though that a skunk’s normal range can be up to two miles from its den.
There is no real scientific evidence that any of the various skunk repellents actually work in getting rid of skunks. Mothballs and predator urine sprays are not at all effective and many commercial skunk repellents are equally worthless. Since skunks are nocturnal creatures, hooking bright floodlights to a motion sensor can floodlight a trespassing skunk and make them leave your space. A sprinkler system can also be hooked up to motion sensors to drive the skunk off. Some motion-activated systems use a pepper spray delivery to repel unwanted marauders in your garden.
If you still have skunks after all efforts have been done to make the area inhospitable to them, you will have to begin trapping them. A live trap that is low enough to prevent the tail from being raised is the safest for the trapper. Bait the live trap with chicken or entrails or other smelly treat and check often so that you can release any wandering cats from the trap. Once you have a skunk in the box, cover the cage with some wet towels to minimize the chances of getting sprayed. Transport the cage to an open area in the country and set the skunk free.
Contrary to some philosophy, shooting the skunks to get rid of them is not a particularly safe way to remove them. A miss or wound will frighten the skunk into spraying and even if you hit, there is still the body to dispose of. Gunfire is also outlawed in just about every city in the country and can result in a fine if you go shooting skunks in urban areas.