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Posted on: October 27, 2017

Tips on How to Deter and Prevent Skunks

skunk

While the Village of Lombard itself does not remove skunks from private properties, there are a number of steps that can be taken by property owners.

Coexisting with wildlife presents challenges, however since skunks are a native species to the area trapping is illegal without a license which is regulated by the Department of Natural Resources. You can deter skunks/wildlife 3 different ways. Site, sound, & smell. Site & sound are the most effective, and below is some information for each option.

  • Sight:
    • Skunks are nocturnal. They naturally prefer darkness and avoid light. Motion detector lights, flood lights, or Christmas lights could help deter wildlife from approaching your property.

  • Sound:
    • Willowbrook Wildlife Center suggests that a radio could be used deter wildlife. While you are in your yard, or if your dog is in your yard, a radio could deter interactions with wildlife. Wild animals tend to avoid humans and a radio (in combination with light) will add to this deterrent. Additionally, wind chime could also be used an another preventative measure.

  • Scent:
    • From August to May, ammonia soaked rags or tennis balls (please use with caution in areas where dogs or children might ), or red pepper flakes as a scent deterrent. The ammonia will deter skunks but only when they are right up next to it. Which is why the site & sound options are a good idea to keep the animals at a farther distance. Willowbrook suggests that using a smell deterrent in addition to the site or sound options above. Scent deterrents could cause irritation to baby animals, but they assured me that the skunks are old enough now, and that August – May is considered a “safe zone” where residents can use scent deterrents. From May – August, scent deterrents should not be used, due their potential to irritate baby animals.

The best way to prevent a skunk from establishing a den in your yard is to make your property less attractive to skunks by following these tips:

  • Use welded wire to block access to crawl spaces and areas under decks, sheds, patios and porches.
  • Never feed skunks.
  • Keep pet food and water dishes inside.
  • Keep grills and barbecues clean.
  • Keep garbage cans inside. If this is not possible, pour 1 cup of ammonia inside each can, sprinkle black pepper on the top bags, or place ammonia-soaked rags on top of the lids and secure them with bungee cords.
  • Use closed compost bins.
  • Keep the ground below bird feeders and fruit trees clean.
  • Install a 3-foot-high chicken-wire fence around your garden. Bury an additional foot underground to discourage digging.
  • Spray plants with a mixture of 1 gallon of water and 2 tablespoons of hot sauce or garlic puree. Reapply after a heavy dew or rain.
  • If skunks are digging up your lawn in search of grubs, place cayenne pepper and ammonia-soaked rags in the area, or spray it with a mixture of 8 ounces of Dawn dish soap, a handful of chewing tobacco and water.

If a skunk has already established a den, try the techniques below, preferably two or three at the same time. After a few days, pack crumpled newspaper into the entrance. If the skunk is still there, it will pull the paper out. If the paper stays in place for a few days, repair any openings.

  • Place flashlights, flood lamps, blinking holiday lights or a constantly noisy device such as a radio, alarm clock or toy in the den. Leave them on day and night — or at least during the day to disturb the animal’s sleep.
  • Place ammonia-soaked rags in the den for one week. Re-soak the rags daily, and pack crumpled newspaper in the entrance to hold in the fumes. Never use ammonia between March and August; it can harm infants too young to escape.
  • If you have a skunk trapped in a window well, place a rough board at a 45 degree angle inside the well. If you do not have a rough board, wrap a towel or carpeting around a board to provide traction. (Skunks aren’t good climbers.) Make sure it’s long enough to reach the top. Place fish-scented cat food or cheese at the top of the ramp to entice the skunk, which may not leave until night.
  • Trapping and removing an animal is not always the solution to the problem. Removing the animal is illegal without the proper permits and only creates an open space for another animal to inhabit. A trapped adult may also leave young behind to die of starvation. Focus on removing the attraction, not the animal.
  • Never move young from a den.
  • Never use poisons. They’re inhumane and may be illegal. They can also result in secondary poisoning of other wild animals or pets.


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