Skunk removal is always best left to the professionals, but if you’re going to try it, make sure you’re armed with the proper knowledge. Below are some tips that will help you learn how to get rid of a skunk. Just be careful – it’s more dangerous than you think.
How to get rid of skunks in your yard
The best way to control the skunk population around your home is with habitat modification. The Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program in the Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of California (UC IPM) advises:
‟The most effective way to make your property less attractive to skunks is by reducing access to food, water, and shelter that the animals need. To reduce food sources, fallen fruit and spilled seed from bird feeders should be removed frequently. Garbage cans should have tight-fitting lids, and food items or table scraps should not be placed in compost bins; use “hot” rather than “cold” compost method to process organic waste. Food placed outdoors for pets should be removed by nightfall. Intentionally feeding a wild skunk, even when done with good intentions, is a harmful practice. The skunk or its young may become dependent on the unnatural food source and lose their fear of people. This increases the chance that an adult or child may be bitten. Also, the skunk may be trapped or killed when it wanders into another yard where it is not welcome.
It is also suggested that the management of grubs and other insects in lawns can reduce food for skunks. In theory, this will deter the animal from further digging.
Potential den sites can be limited by cutting back overgrown shrubbery and by stacking firewood tightly, preferably at least 18 inches above the ground. Remove boards, rocks, and debris lying on the ground, as insects that skunks feed on hide under these objects. Also, control mice and rats so that their numbers do not build up and provide an abundant food source for skunks.”
If these habitat modifications don’t work, wildlife traps might be necessary to get rid of skunks. This is best left to a pest management professional due to the dangers skunks present (discussed below). If you choose to risk it, the Entomology Department at Purdue University recommends:
‟In urban areas, live trapping with baited box or cage traps is the most desirable method. Cage traps are available from feed or hardware stores. Almost any type of food can be used as bait to catch skunks, although there is less chance of catching a small dog or cat if fruits such as apples, pears or bananas are used. Skunks rarely release their scent in darkened areas such as live traps that have been carefully covered with plywood or burlap. Leave the door uncovered to identify the animal before the trap is moved. Always approach a trap slowly and quietly to prevent upsetting a trapped skunk. Shooting and trapping, including the use of live traps and leg hold traps, are some methods that can be used in rural areas.”
How to get rid of a skunk in your home
In most cases, skunk removal is necessary underneath the house, rather than inside the home. Here’s how to get rid of a skunk in both situations. The Missouri Department of Conservation notes:
‟If a skunk has already settled under a building or slab, block all openings except one. Place sand, lime, or kitchen flour around the opening, then check the opening the next day for tracks. If tracks indicate the animal is outside the den, seal the opening. Young skunks may be present during May and June, and sealing the opening then would result in starvation and odor. If possible, keep pets away and allow the young to grow and abandon the den — typically by mid-August — then seal the opening.
If a skunk has fallen into a basement window well, wait until evening, then place a rough-sawn board or board with cleats tacked crosswise into the well at a shallow angle so the skunk can climb out. If a skunk has entered a garage or basement, leave doors open so the animal can wander out on its own after dark.”
The UC IPM has some helpful skunk removal tips to add, especially when kits (baby skunks) are involved, advising:
‟Once skunks have made their home beneath a building, the problem is a little more difficult because you have to be sure the animals have left before blocking the opening. One way to determine this is to sprinkle a smooth, 1/8-inch thick layer of flour just in front of the point of entrance to form a tracking patch. Examine the tracking patch soon after dark; the presence of footprints will indicate that the animal has left and the opening can be closed. However, blocking the entrance is more problematic if there are several young left behind. If you are not sure that all the skunks beneath a building have left, a one-way, outward-swinging gate can be fashioned that will allow any remaining skunks to leave but not to re-enter. This gate can be constructed from 1/2-inch mesh hardware cloth hinged at the top of the frame and left loose on the other three sides. It must be larger than the opening so that it can only swing outward. Skunks will push it open to leave but will not be able to push it inward to re-enter. This is ineffective, of course, if the kits are not yet mobile; kits not yet able to walk may have to be removed by other means. The placement of one or more floodlights beneath the building facing outward through the skunk’s entry point will often assist in driving them away from a location.”
If a skunk is physically in your home, Missouri’s Department of Conservation advises:
‟Fully-enclosed cage-type traps are effective and reduce the potential for spraying. Wooden box or cage-type traps can also be used. Bait with over-ripe bananas, peanut butter, jelly, or marshmallows to avoid capturing … cats. If using a regular cage-type trap, after capture cover the trap with a towel or burlap bag to keep the animal calm. Move quietly, deliberately, and avoid sudden movements to minimize the potential for spraying.”
Of course, this puts you and your family in direct danger. Here’s why.
Why getting rid of skunks can be dangerous
Aside from dealing with the well-known smell of skunk spray and possibly tending to nasty bite and scratch wounds, the entomologists at Purdue University warn:
‟Skunks are a primary source of rabies in many areas of the United States. Human and domestic pet contact with skunks should be avoided. If it is necessary to handle a skunk, take all precautions to keep from being bitten or scratched. Several other types of diseases and parasites affect skunks such as distemper, mange, fleas, ticks, lice, roundworms and tapeworms.”
The experts at UC IPM add to this, saying:
‟Skunks can also be carriers of other diseases including leptospirosis, listeriosis, canine distemper, canine hepatitis, Q-fever, and tularemia.”
Leave skunk removal to the experts
Thankfully, all this hassle and danger can be avoided. As the College of Agricultural Sciences at Penn State points out:
‟Local wildlife pest control operators can be contacted to remove skunks and other nuisance wildlife. These individuals have experience removing animals and allow the homeowner to alleviate the problem without coming in contact with the animal.”
In other words, you don’t have to learn how to get rid of a skunk, you only have to learn to dial 1.877.TERMINIX, and let us make skunk removal stink a lot less.