Skunk Control

Female skunk leading young. Photo by Edward Kellems
Description:

Young skunks are weaned at six to seven weeks. Photo Credits: Edward D. Kellems

Biology

  • Nocturnal
  • Mate in Jan-Feb
  • Member of weasel family
  • Can spray up to 10 feet.

skunk skull. Photo by Dallas VirchowA Striped Skunk Skull
Description: Similar to a mink skull but larger. Photo Credits: Dallas Virchow

 

 

 

Signs

  • Smell--although skunks don't emit the odor the way cartoon figure PePe Lepew does, when they spray, everyone knows it! Deodorizing Information
  • 3-4" half moon depression, typically under a porch, deck, or shed.

Damage

  • kills poultry and eats their eggs;
  • eat garbage, corn;
  • makes 3 to 4-inch cone shaped holes in turf,
  • damages bee hives;
  • odor and disease hazards

Legal Considerations

Striped skunks are considered fur-bearing animals throughout their range. Typically, they are abundant enough to permit unlimited taking. Spotted and hog-nose skunks are less plentiful and may have harvest restrictions in your area.  

Control Methods

Habitat Modification

  • Cover Window Wells--Skunks become trapped insidePlastic window well cover. Photo by Stephen Vantassel uncovered window wells. Prevent this by securing your window-well with a plastic cover. Click thumbnail for larger image.

Rescuing Skunks Trapped in Window Wells

Please note all of these techniques carry risks.

skunk removal board. Photo by Dallas Virchow Option 1. Carefully place an 8" wide board, with cleats to allow skunk to climb out. it is critical that the board not be too steep or a skunk won't be able to climb it. Endeavor to make the slope less than a 45 degree angle. Photo by: Dallas Virchow.

Option 2. Carefully place a 7x7x24 covered and baited box-trap into the well. Bait with tuna or chicken.  Once skunk is caught, he can be released on site (around dusk) after the window well has been covered.

Option 3. (professionals only) Use cat grasping tongs to grab hold of skunk and rescue him from the window well.

Structural Exclusion techniques for preventing skunk entry

Preventing Lawn Damage:

Grub Control: In our experience, damage will continue up to three weeks after application of an insecticide for controlling grubs. Whether this continued activity is due to faulty application or the time needed for the insecticide to kill the grubs, we don't know at this time. However, there are plenty of ways insecticides can be ineffectively applied.

However, we would stress that grub prevention is key. If you can stop grubs before the skunks find them, then you will be ahead of the game. If you are too late, then fencing and other exclusion techniques will be the only sure-fire way to stop the damage from continuing.

We strongly recommend reading White Grubs in Turf published by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

White Grubs in Turf White grub NebGuide --Univ. of Nebraska-Lincoln


Repellents

  • No known effective repellents

 

Trapping

Trapping is very effective. There are specially manufactured box traps designed to reduce the risk of being sprayed by skunks.

Solid wall skunk trap. Photo by Dave Purwin Skunk plasti-catch cage trap manufactured by Minnesota Plasti-Catch provides a safer way to capture skunks.  Photographer: Dave Purwin, Desert Wildlife Services, Inc.
Hooded skunk near covered cage traps. Photo by Critter Control

Cage traps can be covered as the traps below.

Hooded skunk near covered cage traps. Photo Credits: Critter Control, Inc.

skunk cage trap. Photo by Dallas Virchow

Gravity door cage traps, like this home-made trap, allow the door to drop open when trap is turned upside down.

Shooting

  • Shooting is effective but potentially a smelly affair as shot skunks may spray.

Toxicants

  • Sulfur-Charcoal fumigants are registered for the management of skunks in burrows not in proximity to structures.

Diseases

Skunks suffer from a number of diseases including

  • Distemper
  • Rabies

sick skunk. Photo by Univ. of NebraskaStriped Skunk with possible distemper
Photo Credits: U of Nebraska

 

General Skunk Information

How to Release Unwanted Skunks From Cage Traps

Striped Skunks (Mephitis mephitis)--Illinois Department of Natural Resources

 

Deodorizing Skunk Odor

EPA Statement on Ozone Generators--Explains why Ozone Generators may be harmful.

Removing Skunk Odor--Univ. of Nebraska-Lincoln

 

University Publications on Skunk Management

Dealing with Skunks--Univ. of Nebraska-Lincoln

Backyard Wildlife DVD

vol. 1. The Fundamentals of Cage Trapping. Over 60 minutes in length. This video covers

  • Choosing a trap
  • Baiting strategies
  • Setting techniques
  • Releasing mistakenly trapped skunks
  • Animal euthanasia
  • Disease prevention

Order your copy

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