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If you are dealing with skunks in your yard, trapping may seem like a quick and simple solution to the problem. But, as with many wild animals, if you remove one, you often open territory for another skunk or even a different animal to move in. The best way to approach this problem is to look at it from the skunk’s point of view. Your home is in his territory. And if he’s choosing your yard/home to stay in you are doing something right, at least for the skunk! Accessible trash cans are a buffet, dog/cat food left outside is a fast food snack, and brush or open crawl space can offer them the abode they want.
Skunks, like most wild animals, are looking for three main things: food, water and shelter/denning sources. Remove these 3 necessities and most likely the pesky animals will move on.
So, let’s look at possible ways of removing these necessities:
Removal of food sources:
- Secure all trash cans with tight lids and bungee cords. It helps to rinse them out occasionally to remove the attracting odors.
- Do not leave any pet bowls, food and/or water, outside overnight. Bring them in as soon as your pet is finished eating.
- If you have fruit trees, cut back any low hanging limbs or keep the fruit picked.
If you have grubs, treat your lawn, as these are tasty treats for a skunk.
Removal of denning sources:
- Clean up brush and wood piles, as these areas can attract food sources (bugs, mice, etc.) or offer shelter for the skunks.
- Fill in openings under concrete slabs. Fill with rock then dirt.
- Use lattice or L-shaped footer of welded wire to block off openings of elevated sheds, decks, porches or crawl spaces.
***Best to use the above techniques to prevent denning before an animal moves in, but if you suspect a skunk or other animal has already moved in, follow these recommendations to determine if you have animals living there and how to remove them before securing the den.
- Loosely fill the hole or opening with straw, crumpled newspaper, or soil. If there is a skunk, or other animal present, the animal will easily push their way out over night and reopen the hole.
- If the plug remains undisturbed for 2 or 3 nights, it is safe to assume the hole/den is unoccupied and blocked off. However, in the winter skunks may be inactive for longer periods of time, so allow them extra time to disturb/unplug the hole.
- If the hole is occupied, you can use harassment techniques or a one-way door system to evict the skunks. When evicting the skunks make sure there are no dependent young in the den. If there are young, do not use a one-way door until the babies are old enough to follow the mother out. You can also use a light and radio (talk radio may be best) as a harassment technique to make the denning source less attractive.
Deterrents work best when the 3 necessities, food, water and shelter are removed. Some examples are:
*Cayenne Pepper: Can be sprinkled in areas of known skunk activity (reapply after a rain or watering) or use cayenne recipe (see below) to make a homemade spray.
*Electronic water repellent: This motion activated sprinkler can be purchased at local hardware stores.
*Motion sensor lights: Motion sensor lights can also be purchased at local hardware stores.
Cayenne deterrent spray (Recipe 1)
1 quart of water ¼cup vegetable oil 2 tablespoons cayenne pepper
Steep overnight, strain through cheesecloth, pour into a spray bottle and spray where needed.
Cayenne deterrent spray (Recipe 2)
2 quarts water chopped yellow onion chopped jalapenos 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
Boil for 20 minutes, when cool strain through cheesecloth and pour into a spray bottle and spray where needed.
CAUTION: When using cayenne sprays use gloves and mask as cayenne can cause skin and eye irritation. Spray test anything you think may stain. Sprays need to be applied every 4-5 days or after a rain.
If you see a sick or injured skunk or have a skunk in your house contact Animal Control at 816-690-3773 x 1006. Sometimes a wildlife pest control can/must be used.