Skunks living in Rockdale are not a new thing. They have been here longer than the buildings we live in. Their populations may thin out for a few years, and then explode back up for a couple generations. Weather conditions, such as mild winters, can contribute to an increase in skunk population.
Skunks can be beneficial at times. They tend to eat a lot of wasps, bees, crickets, beetles, and beetle larvae (grubs). They are useful in thinning populations of small rodents such as mice and voles. When they can’t find living creatures, they do eat carrion and even fruits and vegetables.
Skunks like to live out of sight. Their habitats are usually located around empty fields, forests and railway tracks. But, when these areas are not supplying them with enough food or shelter, skunks will branch out into neighborhoods. They like to hunt at night, but will come out during daylight hours if they cannot find enough food. The neighborhood at night is their grocery store.
Trapping is not an effective way of dealing skunks. Removing all of the skunks from a neighborhood, village or county is an impossible task and can greatly affect the ecosystem. Removing the species will only bring in other critters from outside and cause an explosion of the insect population. Although the Village provides a Free service to our Residents for Skunk removal, we also think Skunk Prevention and becoming more educated is the answer.
While the animals travel all around scavenging for food, there are a few things you as a homeowner can do to keep them out of your own yard.
What you can do
1) First and foremost, control the grubs and insects in your lawn. Strongly encourage your neighbors to do this as well.
2) Keep other food sources out of their reach. Clean up around your yard and close your garbage cans tightly. Fence in your vegetable gardens and pick up any fruit or acorns that might fall from trees.
3) Identify and close up possible dens around your house. Wood piles, hollow logs, holes under door stoops, gaps below decks, sheds that do not get much use and even behind bushes. Not sure if there may be a skunk living there? Spread flour around the area and look for paw prints the next morning.
4) Consider using a repellent:
- Mothballs - There are commercial grade repellents available. The best substance to drive away animals is good old mothballs. Place these around any area you believe the skunk may be active.
- Ammonia rags - You can also use rags soaked in common ammonia in the same fashion. Do not pour the ammonia directly into the lawn.
- Cayenne pepper - Around your plants, fruit trees and garbage cans, spread cayenne pepper in copious amounts to keep them away.
5) If you do get up close to one, back away slowly. Do not panic. Skunks do not want confrontation and don’t want to spray you. They will spray only when they are threatened and cannot retreat in time or if they are defending their young. When they have time to warn you, they will get low to the ground, growl, stomp their paws and raise their tail. If you don’t back off, they will turn around to spray. Their spray can go up to 15 feet, so put a whole lot of distance between you and them.
6) Residents are not permitted to trap and/or kill skunks without a license (state law 520 ILCS 5).
If a skunk has sprayed
If you are trying to get rid of the scent on a pet or a surface that has been sprayed, tomato juice does not work as well as you think. Instead, try mixing this:
1 quart of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide
1/4 cup baking soda
1 teaspoon liquid dish washing soap (Dawn)
Wear rubber gloves. Use immediately, and outdoors, if at all possible, to keep the volatile skunk spray out of your house. Rinse after five minutes and repeat if needed. Warning: Do not store this mixture! Use it immediately after mixing. If left in a closed container, the oxygen gas released could make the container burst.
Skunk Education is important! Take that first step and you will live a happy “Skunk Free” life!