City Wildlife
Featured Article
Image of a Skunk
Animal Services - Skunks

 

  • GENERAL INFORMATION

Skunks are very shy creatures and will avoid confrontation. They have very poor eyesight and are poor climbers. Mating begins in February through March, the young stay with the mother until fall, occasionally until spring. Males are solitary and do not participate in the raising of the young. Skunks are nocturnal and semi-hibernate which means they may emerge during mild winter weather. Skunks predate hornets and bumblebees, their favourite insects are the white grub larvae.

DISEASE: Skunks carry the usual distemper, fleas, ticks etc. They are a known carrier of rabies, however, the incidents of rabies in skunks has been greatly reduced, probably due to the oral rabies baiting programs.

SIGHTINGS: Out in daylight hours. Common during the breeding season.  They are common in fall when juveniles are searching for a new den site or may have been flushed from a hiding spot.

ABNORMAL BEHAVIOUR: Skunk appears to be drunk or staggering, falling over, paralysed hind limbs, appears to be unaware of surroundings or potential dangers. Loss of fear of humans and pets, running around in circles in an open area, attacking inanimate objects are other signs of abnormal behaviour. Note: Skunks do not run from anything, they amble away slowly or freeze, however they should never approach a person or pet. They have very poor eyesight and a slow ambling gait.

  • HOW TO PROTECT YOUR HOME

Sheds, Porches, Decks, Stairway entrances, enclosed above ground pools or hot tubs...what do these areas all have in common? These areas all provide an enclosed, protected area that is easy to burrow beneath due to the fact there is no foundation.

Dig a trench around structure, install l6 gauge 1 inch x 1 inch galvanized steel mesh as follows: Bury the screen one foot straight down and one foot straight our at a 90 degree angle in an "L" shape. Cover screen with soil, make sure area over screen is clear of debris, What does this do? The skunk or burrowing animal will start digging right up against the structure, they dig straight down, they will hit the plateau of screen and be unable to continue. They may try several areas around the structure but they will be unable to clear the screen. This should take care of any skunk problem for many years. Note: This should be done for any potential problem area around your home and preferably as a preventative measure. Never enclose area until you are sure the den site is vacant. Follow steps below.

  • HOW TO EVICT A SKUNK

Try and convince the skunk that the area it has chosen for a den site is undesirable. They prefer a dark, quiet place that affords protection from predators.

First check to see if the entrance area is in use by plugging it up with a scrunched rag or newspaper. (Something the animal can push out of the way) Or you can put flour down outside the entrance and check for footprints.

Encourage the skunk to leave by placing a transistor radio at the den entrance, let it play loudly for 24 to 72 hours. Odour deterrents are difficult to utilize due to the inability to place them inside the den area. Place a bright light inside the area if possible, without creating a fire hazard. Try a combination of all of the above. Install a one way door, allowing skunk to leave but not re-enter. This method should not be used between March and September when skunk are rearing their young.

Now you must check to make sure there is no activity at the site. Use method suggested in Step A. Let 48-72 hours pass before making your repairs. (You can enclose 90 percent of the structure allowing an escape route, when you are sure they are gone, complete the job.) Remember you must be sure no animals or young are left in the den site. Not only will the animals suffer but a parent will do more damage trying to rescue her young. Plus you will be left with smelly decomposing bodies.

  • REMOVE FOOD ATTRACTIONS

Garbage: Keep stored in an enclosed area in steel garbage containers. Place at curb on day of pick up. If garbage is stored in garage, never leave garage door open, even a crack. Placing oil of mustard or Naphtha Flakes in bottom of garbage container may repel animals.

Compost:
Skunks are poor climbers, if your composter is screened on the bottom this should prevent any skunk from getting inside.

Lawn and Garden:
Skunks like Raccoons are attracted to any types of vegetable or fruit gardens Spray veggies and fruit with diluted Tabasco sauce mixture, rinse well before eating. Repeat after a rain. Skunks also excavate lawn areas during spring and fall months for the grub larvae. Maintain effective lawn care program. Try repellents such as, Pure Soap Flakes, watered into lawn and soil. Use noisy wind chimes, radio, bright lights during peak months. Highlight the problem months on your calendar so you can take preventative action. Use the above methods in combination with others. Note: Wildlife odour deterrents are available at many hardware stores and garden centres. Used cat litter has a natural ammonia content that may deter wildlife. Blood Meal fertilizer can also be used as an effective repellent on lawns and gardens.

Window Wells: (
Cap or screen to prevent skunks from falling in and becoming trapped) Skunks often become trapped in window wells. They are poor climbers, so to assist them you need a wide cleated board or screen placed at a 45 degree angle inside the well. Approach slowly and keep out of sight, place board in slowly, if skunk stamps his feet or raises the tail try again later. Keep pets and people away and the skunk should leave on its own, usually after dark.

  • IF THEY SPRAY

A skunk can spray up to l0 feet with great accuracy. Watch for warning signs, they usually hiss or stamp their front feet, then turn away and spray. To remove spray:

From your eyes: Flush with clean water. The spray causes a painful irritation and will sting on contact.

From your skin: Wash with carbolic soap.

From your pet: Wash pet in Tomato Juice or vinegar, followed by a thorough shampoo. Try "Coke or Pepsi" or toothpaste, followed by a thorough shampoo. Check with your veterinarian for pet shampoos. The smell will linger for several washing.

  • LIVE TRAPPING

We do not advocate live trapping wildlife. Trapping is a "band-aid" solution it does not solve the problem. To prevent a re-occurrence you must make the necessary alterations or repairs to your property or home. Indiscriminate trapping leaves orphaned young to starve, disease to spread and studies have shown that relocated animals do not survive.  In accordance with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources Regulations, trapped animals must be released within one kilometre of their capture point. 

 






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