Skunk - Mephitidae

Skunks are a very beneficial part of the urban eco-system, acting as a natural pest control in many ways as they hunt mice, voles, bees, wasps, grubs, beetles, and more. They can, however, become a nuisance either because their territory comes into conflict with that of domestic pets - threatening pets and property with that famously pungent odour when they spray, or when they wreck havoc in the garden or flower bed as they search for food.

Getting Rid of Skunks

To get rid of skunks from on, or around, your property, there are three ways that you can go about it. Exclusion, Passive Deterrence or Trapping.

Exclusion

This involves installing physical barriers to prevent the skunks from gaining access to your property, or from gaining access to denning sites on, or near, your property.

Passive Deterrence

Summer is the time when baby skunks emerge from their dens and begin to explore their environment. While adult skunks are generally nocturnal, baby skunks will often be active many times throughout the day. It's not uncommon to see 5 or 6 baby skunks playing in your yard at this time of year.

This method of pest control involves applying gentle pressure in a natural way to make your property less attractive to the skunks. This can be done chemically by applying deterrents such as ammonia, or cider vinegar to denning sites, or the application of pheromone scents such as fox or coyote urine to key areas around the property. Or, passive deterrence can also be done by making physical changes to the environment to make it less attractive, or less habitable to the target wildlife. Examples of this would include, adding bright lights or noisemakers to the property, opening up side panels or cleaning up stored items or yard debris to expose denning sites, etc…

Trapping

Lastly, property owners may elect to trap the skunks on their property. Once you have trapped a skunk, you have one of three options: You can then dispatch (kill) the skunk, or you can relocate the skunk, or you can translocate the captured skunk.

  • Dispatching - Depending on the method used, this option is probably the most humane option for effectively dealing with a trapped skunk. You can control the death, making it quick and relatively painless for the animal.

  • Relocation - This involves releasing a trapped animal in another part of its home territory. This is not a very effective method for dealing with a trapped skunk, as it will likely find its way back to your property within a matter of hours. This method is best used as a temporary way to get a skunk away from a den so that it can be closed up. However, you have to be sure that you have removed all the skunks from the den before closing it up.

  • Translocation - This involves releasing a trapped animal in a completely foreign or unfamiliar territory. For skunks, this method is almost the same as dispatching (killing) the skunk except that it is far less humane. Translocating skunks greatly reduces their chances of survival. Studies have been done that show only about 35% of translocated adult skunks live longer than 30 days, and only about 1-3% of translocated baby skunks live longer than 30 days. People think they are giving the animals a fighting chance by translocating them, but the reality is much more cruel. In a completely foreign territory, skunks are highly stressed and scared. They have no idea where to look for food or water, they have no idea where to find shelter from the elements, or from predators, and they have no idea what predators or other dangers even exist within the new territory.

At Lavellan, our preferred method for dealing with skunks involves a combination of exclusion and passive deterrence. We only trap skunks if there is no other option available, and if it proves to be in the best interest of the skunk(s) as well as the property owners.