Got a Skunk Problem? That Stinks. Here’s How to Get Rid of Them

by Team eLocal
Striped skunk in wildlife and conservation  area.

Has a close encounter of the furry kind got you scrambling to find out how to get rid of skunks? Despite their adorable appearance, skunks — easy to ID thanks to their black-and-white striped bodies — are among the world’s smelliest critters. The scent they emit is downright infamous and can also cause extreme discomfort if it gets in the eyes.

If a skunk has taken up residence on your property, your number one goal is to evict this creature before the two of you are unwittingly introduced. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to encourage these stinky creatures to tuck tail and run.

How Do You Know You Have a Skunk Problem?

Sighting a skunk on your property doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve got a four-alarm skunk emergency on hand. And skunks can be beneficial (at a distance, at least) because they eat some of the rodents and insects that are generally regarded as pests.

The most obvious sign that a skunk is using your property for its stomping ground is the horrific smell that the animal produces. Chances are good that you will smell a skunk before you see one. If the skunk sticks around your place long enough, you may pick up a faint but persistent musky odor around woodpiles, outbuildings and similar structures.

You can also look for lawn damage. Skunks dig little shallow holes throughout the yards in their range, almost like those made by squirrels. Look for plants that have sustained damage to their lower leaves or been knocked completely over.

What Are Some Home Remedies to Get Rid of Skunks?

Wondering how to get rid of skunks in a humane way? HGTV says skunks abhor particular odors — including citrus, mothballs, ammonia and the urine of predators, including dogs and coyotes. By placing cotton balls soaked in ammonia, citrus oils, mothballs or predator urine (yes, you can buy this at your local farm supply store) near the locations where skunks have been seen, you may beat the skunk at its own game by stinking it out.

Another option is to fill up the skunk’s den with dirt if you can find where it’s located. Be mindful, however, that in the springtime, the den may be home to baby skunks, so you may want to wait until everyone is mature enough to venture from the den to fill it in.

What Deters Skunks?

Keep in mind that skunks emit their smelly spray as a defense mechanism to keep predators away. Because of this, skunks only spray their stinky payload if they feel endangered. That being said, avoid trying to scare the skunk or brush it away with a broom or other makeshift weapon.

When it comes to getting rid of skunks, deterrence is preferable for both you and the animal. There are a few tricks you can use to send skunks on their way with little harm done.

Bob Vila says these methods will send skunks packing:

  • Make the area uninviting. The main attraction for the skunk is likely food. Make sure that the skunk’s food supply is completely eliminated by covering garbage cans with lids that fit tightly and putting them into a spot where the trash container cannot be tipped over.
  • If you have nut or fruit trees, keep fallen nuts or fruit picked up from the ground.
  • If you have outdoor pets, clean up the leftovers after each meal.
  • Do not add kitchen scraps to your compost pile; keep your compost covered with a tight-fitting lid.
  • Secure bird feeders to prevent tipping over by skunks looking for a seedy snack.
  • Mow your lawn regularly to reduce the number of insects that are attracted to tall grass.
  • Keep bright lights on outdoors at night.
  • Consider installing motion-sensor lights.

Is It Legal to Trap or Kill Skunks?

Trapping and removing the skunk safely (and without getting sprayed) can be difficult, and it might not be legal. Laws regarding trapping or killing skunks vary widely from one state — or municipality — to another.

In some areas, skunks are protected by law. However, if the skunk is causing property damage, the law may still allow trapping or extermination of the skunk. To be sure, check with your state’s department for wildlife management or similar local government entity to determine whether trapping or killing a problematic skunk is legal.

The Bottom Line

Remember, skunks are shy, skittish little creatures, so they’re not out to bother you. In fact, as the old adage goes: They’re more scared of you than you could ever be of them.

If a skunk is near, food is normally the lure. Getting rid of food sources can make your property look less appealing to these stinky invaders. If you try the deterrents and solutions above and the skunk remains active, you may need to call out a professional pest control service to help.

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