Skunk Control and Prevention

Skunks, Sandstone, Minnesota

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The following is the second of a three-part series providing an overview of skunks, how to prevent or control skunks, and how to get rid of the skunk odor should you or your pet be in the line of a skunk's spray.

Prevention. Make your home and yard less attractive to skunks by eliminating their potential dens as well as food and water sources:

  • Close in areas beneath decks and porches with latticework or heavy landscaping
  • Pick up all pet food and water bowls and scraps each night
  • Keep garbage cans covered, and never put food in open compost piles.
  • Remove all logs, rocks, lumber, and junk or trash piles under which skunks can find shelter or insects on which to feed.
  • Seal off any openings in foundations or crawlspace with 1/4- to 1/2-inch hardware cloth or other sturdy mesh. Bury the mesh as directed for fencing (below).

Fencing. Skunks will dig beneath fences, so the only way to protect an area with a fence is by burying it 6 to 8 inches deep, with the fencing shaping into an outward-facing L at the base, with the leg extending 8 to 10 inches.

Trapping: Trapping may be an option, but state regulations vary as to legality of trapping, types of traps allowed, humane treatment and specifications for release (when live traps are used). Live traps are generally available at hardware, agricultural supply, and feed stores, or sporting goods stores. Try baiting the trap with canned or fresh fish, fish-flavored cat food, sardines, chicken entrails, or peanut butter, then covering the trap with a heavy canvas prior to setting it to help decrease the chances of the skunk spraying when it realizes it is caught. Always check your state and local laws prior to attempting to trap any wildlife.

Identify Skunk Presence. If you suspect that a skunk (or other wildlife) is living under your home, porch, or other areas, inspect the potential entry point just after dark when the animal would have left to seek food. Inspect for and identify tracks (using a wildlife guide). If the ground is not conducive to tracking, lay a thin layer of sand, dust or baking flour at the entrance.

Erect a One-Way Door. To allow skunks to leave and not reenter shelter beneath a structure, Barnes recommends the attaching of a piece of 1/2-inch hardware cloth to the top of the opening. It should be larger than the entire entrance, hinged at the top, and loose on the other three sides. Once the skunks are gone, the entrance can be sealed to keep other wildlife from getting in.

Chemical Repellents and Pesticides. Again, state regulations vary in this regard with some having no repellents or pesticides registered for control of skunks.

Shooting. Some states allow shooting of skunks, based on the area in which the nuisance animals are sighted, the time of year, hunting license restrictions, whether or not the skunks are protected fur-bearing animal, humane treatment laws, and an array of other regulations. Check your state's Fish and Wildlife Service for applicable laws and restrictions.