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What to do about skunks
under porch, near house

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The Heart of New England
Celebrating the unique character & culture of Maine ~ New Hampshire ~ Vermont
Got Skunks? Tips on What to do...
By Wendy Thomas

There is something oddly adorable about skunks. They are compact, have
wonderfully unique markings and don't walk so much as waddle forward
from side to side.

Last summer I and the kids came across four little ones tumbling over each
other trying to get to the berry bushes on the side of the road. "Oohhs" and
"oh look how cute" came from even the most seasoned of us.

But we all knew to give them a very wide berth.

Skunks may be adorable but if you have ever had the misfortune of being
close to the spray, you know that there is just nothing else that is quite so vile
(nor as difficult to remove from dog fur and clothing) as skunk spray.

So you can imagine my concern when we discovered that we had a skunk
living under our low wooden back porch. Normally my philosophy with
wildlife is that if you let them be, they won't bother you. However with the
back porch being so close to the pen where we exercise our three small
yappy dogs, I knew that things had the potential to go south (and get smelly)
very quickly.

I did some research on getting rid of skunks and found these varying
approaches for skunk removal:

Call the Animal Control Guys

For a fee (sometimes a fairly large one) animal control businesses will come
to your house, set a "catch-them-alive" trap and transport the skunk to
somewhere else miles away. This is as close to a geographical cure as you are
going to get. Of course it assumes that you have caught all the skunks and
that no friendly relatives are waiting to occupy the vacated dens.

Do not call your local police department, if the animal does not pose a threat
(and potential stink is not considered a threat) then it is your responsibility
and not theirs to handle the problem.

Get a Statue of a Fox

Skunks hate foxes; foxes love skunks (to eat). They naturally give each other a
lot of room. Having a statue of a fox is sort of like having a scarecrow in the
cornfield. They can range from being very effective to being resting places for
the crows. Get as lifelike a statute as you can find and vary the location
around your yard on a regular basis.

Natural Chemicals/Repellents

There are products on the market that contain the smell of fox that
supposedly repel skunks.  These are used around skunk areas to literally
drive them away with fear. The good ones of these are natural and organic
and don't hurt the landscape or other animals. The verdict is still not in on
how effective these repellents are and how effective they are after a

Mind the Food

Our back porch is where we have our grill and that's where we barbecue and
eat our summer dinners. Of course our kids still spill and drop food all over
the lawn. We make sure that all food is quickly picked up and disposed of in
tight lidded trash containers. It helps to spray the outside of the trash bins
with ammonia to cut the food smell.

Remember that the skunks need a reason to move close to people, more often
than not, that reason has to do with an easy food source. Making that source
as difficult as possible to reach might be enough of a deterrent for the skunks
to move.

Light up Their Lives

Some people have claimed success putting a strong light in the area where
the skunks have nested once they have left for the night. Supposedly when
the skunks return to their homes at the end of the night, the light will repel
them and they will find another place to sleep.

The only tricky part of this is to know when all the skunks are gone so that
you can place the light. If it is between April and September there might be
babies which can't leave the den and I can't imagine anyone who would be
happy with a large and obnoxious light shining into their face.

Also as a caution, if you are using this light solution, don't use a halogen
light or one that might overheat. If your porch catches on fire your skunk
problem will be the least of your worries.

Learn to Just Get Along

After reviewing all my options and taking into account that a displaced
skunk is just as likely to move under our shed or our neighbor's porch as it is
to move out to the woods, I finally decided that there are worse things than
having a skunk living in our immediate neighborhood.

We are just going to get along with it. This means we don't leave food out
and I make sure that the dogs are inside by nightfall when skunks are most
likely to start roaming. If we need to go outside, we go around the house
instead of out the back door and make a lot of noise alerting the skunk that
we are coming.

Our payback for modifying our behavior and letting our resident skunk just
stay? The kids and I get to sit in the safety of our house in the evening and
watch an adorable skunk waddle around our back yard. We think it's well
worth it.

About the author: Wendy Thomas is a writer who lives with her husband and six
children in Southern New Hampshire. She has had more than her share of kids
bringing home animals, reptiles, and birds, and a skunk here or there is simply not a
©The Heart of New England online magazine
...celebrating the unique character & culture of Maine, New Hampshire & Vermont!
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