Hawkeye’s certified wildlife professionals get rid of skunks by using control methods including relocation and permanent removal.
Skunks are a very well-known nuisance animal: everyone knows their stout body with short legs, a bushy tail, and the iconic white stripe that runs the length of their body. Skunks are one of the most recognizable members of the Mustelidae (weasel) family. They weigh about 4 to 10 pounds and live an average of 7 years. They also have long curved claws for digging. Skunks are omnivores and will eat almost anything, from insects to various plants to young birds and rabbits. The most infamous part of the skunk is the two scent glands that each carry a small amount of musk, a yellow, oily, and malodorous liquid, which they can spray up to 5 meters. Skunks are nocturnal and can often be seen wandering around urban areas at night. The presence of skunks on your property can be an aggravating problem, but Hawkeye will help you to solve your problem once and for all.
When and where do skunks become a problem?
Skunks often become a problem when they build their winter dens in mid to late autumn. Though they do not hibernate, skunks do slow down and enter a state of torpor. Skunks will stay in the shelter for long periods and occasionally emerge to find food. These dens are usually under woodpiles, decks, or sheds, where the skunk is protected from the weather. In some cases, a group of skunks share a single winter den. Skunks will begin to emerge from their dens around late February and early March; this is when they will begin to breed. The kits are usually born from late May to early June, and there can be anywhere from 2 to 12 kits in a single litter. The females and kits will continue to use the den until they become more independent, around two and a half months after birth. A skunk with a den on your property not only means that it could be living right under your porch but that it will be spending a lot of time hanging around looking for food. Skunks are natural diggers and will rip up massive portions of grass lawns while looking for food in the ground.
However, the most common reason skunks are a problem is because of the smell. Skunks spray not only when they are startled but also to mark their territory. Their thick, oily musk is hard to clean off both structures and pets. The odour tends to linger for days, even when it is outside. If sprayed from too close, it is also irritating and causes burning in the eyes. Finally, skunks carry diseases and parasites. They are one of the major carriers of rabies and also transmit canine parvovirus and leptospirosis, all of which can be very dangerous to humans and pets.
Most Common Scenarios and Complaints
Skunks under Sheds and Decks
We most commonly see skunks burrowing underneath sheds and elevated wooden structures. Because most sheds and decks don't have perfectly sealed floors, all the skunk has to do is dig underneath the structure's wall, and they are granted access to the protected and enclosed space. Though not as destructive as some other common shed inhabitants, skunks can certainly do a lot of damage.
Skunks under Concrete Pads
We also often see skunks burrowing under concrete pads, such as concrete porches, slab driveways, and bases for small structures like firewood sheds. Skunks like these places because of their seclusion: the concrete top and the fact that few other animals are as adept at digging give them a protected space to raise their kits. This can be detrimental to the property. If the concrete pad is weight-bearing, a sizable hole dug underneath can cause structural damages that make it unsafe.
Skunks in urban centres like Toronto and Mississauga and surrounding areas create problems by spraying your home or dog, or ripping up your lawn and garden. More rural communities may find their fruit and vegetable gardens robbed and small poultry attacked and/or killed. We often receive emails and phone calls from people who need our help to:
Keep skunks away from backyard;
Get rid of skunks from their yards;
Keep skunks away from homes;
Figure out what repels skunks;
Trap and remove skunk from under desk and porches;
Stop skunks from digging in their lawn;
Provide ideas for skunk repellent or skunk deterrent.
Skunk Control Methods and Solutions
Once a skunk has dug a den on your property, it is difficult to remove them. However, Hawkeye employs multiple methods to provide exceptional skunk control and removal solutions that allow them to be permanently removed.
One-way exits humanely remove an animal from an enclosed environment, such as underneath a porch or a shed. A door is fitted over the entrance hole; it is designed to allow the animal to leave the inhabited space but not to re-enter. These are usually used when the operator does not want to be sprayed, as they do not require anyone to interact with the animal. One-Way Exits are somewhat limited in their effectiveness because a skunk will usually dig a new entrance right beside the blocked one. One-way exits can ONLY be used if there are no babies or young still relying on their mother's care.
Trapping is one of the most common and effective ways of getting rid of skunks. If the skunk is known to be hiding in a confined space with only one entrance, such as a shed, a positive set trap can be used. The den's entrance hole is covered in a sturdy mesh that connects to and funnels the animal into a spring-loaded trap. This ensures the skunk's capture, as the only way to leave the den is by going into the trap. If this is not possible, a trap can be baited with a fruit paste and set out near the entrance hole. Once the skunk steps into the trap to eat the bait, the door springs closed, and the animal is secured. Another type of trap available for this situation is called a Comstock trap. Very similar to the positive set trap, it is placed and secured directly over the entrance that the skunk has created. The key difference is that this trap remains open on both sides. The benefit of this type of trap is that it can catch a skunk entering or exiting the den. When kits are present, we will wait for them to become independent before trapping the mother. Therefore, during all of May and June, we try to avoid setting traps for skunks so as not to abandon young underneath inaccessible structures. Once a trap has been set, it must be checked at least once every 24 hours, and more often in severe weather conditions.
There are multiple types of spring-loaded traps available for skunks. Cage traps are simple wireframe boxes. Box traps and Z traps are solid plastic containers with small ventilation holes in the door. Though many people may prefer to use the box traps or Z traps to prevent getting sprayed in the face, these are considered inhumane. Both have insufficient ventilation holes, and on warm days, the traps can quickly overheat and give the animal inside a prolonged and painful death. Cage traps allow for unrestricted airflow, and its loosely fitted panels protect the animal from rain or snow. At Hawkeye, we only use cage traps, as the animal's humane treatment is our top priority.
Once a skunk is trapped, it can either be released or euthanized. When a skunk is released, it must be done in a suitable habitat no more than 1 km away from the original trapping site. Keep in mind that the skunk will be placed into an entirely new environment where it will struggle to establish a new territory and find resources. The relocation of a trapped animal is considered inhumane for this reason. More often than not, however, the skunk will traverse the distance and find its way back to your property. Additionally, once an animal has been trapped and released, it becomes trap-smart and is much harder to catch in the future.
Alternatively, the animal can be humanely put down. Here, the animal's permanent removal is ensured. Hawkeye is licensed as a fur-bearing animal trapper under the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, which means we are uniquely qualified to euthanize nuisance animals caught on your property. Further, we can harvest and sell the skunk's hide to approved fur managers, so no animal goes to waste.
When a skunk has been excluded from its den by way of a one-way door or trapped and released, the area around the den must be reinforced. Otherwise, the skunk will simply find its way back to the den or dig another hole into the same place. While skunks may seem to lumber about in a clumsy fashion, they are voracious at tearing into areas to find a home or food. Preventing skunks from getting back under your deck, shed or other areas in your yard will require serious reinforcement. Hawkeye will achieve this by installing an underground fence that prevents the skunks from digging underneath the structure. The bottom half of a 2-foot tall length of galvanized steel wire fence is buried vertically around the structure's perimeter. The top foot is folded outwards, on top of and horizontal to the ground, in an "L" shape. This completely prevents skunks from digging underneath the excluded structure.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I stop a skunk from spraying me?
Do not approach it. Leave the animal control to professionals.
Are skunks dangerous when living on my property?
Usually, skunks just smell bad. However, skunks can carry diseases and parasites that cause serious illness in humans and pets that can be transferred through direct contact or their feces.
Do I need a permit to get rid of skunks?
Only if you plan on euthanizing the skunk; otherwise, trapping and releasing fur-bearing animals on your property does not require a permit.
What time of year do skunks become a problem?
Skunks start looking for winter dens around mid-autumn, which they will use until they emerge in late February/early March. Breeding females will continue to use the den to raise their kits until mid-July.
Skunks are an irritating pest not only because they will dig in your garden and make dens in your shed but also because of their awful (but effective) defence system. If you have a skunk living on your property, Hawkeye has the tools to quickly, humanely, and permanently remove the animal.
Unlike other Ontario animal control companies, Hawkeye’s professionals can help you get with getting rid of skunks by using all of these control methods INCLUDING relocation or permanent removal of skunks as a licensed company.
Getting Rid of Skunks in the Toronto Area
Skunks pose some threats to both people and pets. Skunks carry fleas, ticks, lice, rabies, leptospirosis and canine distemper. Skunks can also become a nuisance when their digging, burrowing and feeding behaviour causes property damage, or their presence puts family pets at risk of being sprayed. Skunks may go after small poultry and eggs and can do an impressive amount of damage in fruit and vegetable gardens.
Skunks are most active at night (nocturnal) so digging and feeding homes often goes unnoticed by homeowners and businesses. The scent gland of the skunk holds a small amount of foul-smelling methyl mercaptan, enough to allow the skunk to spray five or six times. The skunk will give plenty of warning before spraying, if it can, by stamping its feet, growling and hissing. If the threat doesn’t leave, or the skunk is cornered or startled, the skunk will turn its back, raises its tail straight up and spray! A skunk can spray up to 6 metres and the smell can carry over a kilometre. People, dogs and other pets that get caught too close to the spray can experience nausea, pain and temporary blindness.
Skunks can easily rip up a lawn or garden overnight by digging for white grubs (Beetle larva). Skunk holes appear as small cone-shaped holes or patches of up-turned earth 3 to 4 inches in diameter.
Skunk spray can become a big problem for pets who encounter them, and don’t understand the warning signs before the spray. Dogs can become sick if sprayed up close and getting the smell out of a dog that has been sprayed by a skunk can be a real challenge.
Quick Facts on Skunks
The Latin word for bad odour is “mephit”, so the scientific name for the striped skunk is “Mephitis mephitis”. Very appropriate!
A skunk’s home range is between 3.75 km2 and 5km2
Breeding usually occurs in February and March.
Skunks usually have from 2 to 12 babies at the end of April to the beginning of June.
If skunks breed too early, they may have a short period of delayed implantation, which means the fertilized egg is “put on hold” for short time.
Skunks are omnivores – they will eat meat and vegetation. The skunk’s diet can include; insects, eggs, small mammals, corn, cherries, fish, frogs, worms and white grub larvae.
In addition to Skunks, Raccoons and Squirrelswe also deal with Bats, Bears,Beavers, Bobcats, Domestic and Feral Cats, Chipmunks, Coyotes, Deer, Elk, Fox, Groundhogs, Lynx, Marten, Minks, Moose, Muskrats, Porcupines, Possums, and Rabbits. Please explore our Pest/Wildlife Animals Menu for specific information.