September 11, 2015

Skunk

No photos for this post, because the photographer wasn't in a daring mood. :)

For several months now we've been awakened during the night by skunk odor. It hasn't been every night, and some nights it's stronger than others. Sometimes it's just a faint awareness, sometimes it's so strong you can taste it. The odd thing is that there isn't a lingering smell as though the skunk sprayed something. It just comes and goes.

Dan has gotten up every time to go see if he could find this mysterious skunk. We've been pretty sure the cats know all about it. In fact, one night they were all piled up at the backdoor, howling desperately to get in. No sign of anything out there, however.

Last week something started digging in the garden. We figured it might be an opossum or a raccoon. Less likely a cat, because cats cover their business once they're done with the hole they make. Dan decided to set out the live animal trap.

The first night - nothing, except ants all over the bait. Dan relocated the trap for a second try. The next morning while I was milking Helen, he came up and said, "Got it."

"What was it?" I asked.

"Skunk."

Whew. A skunk in a live animal trap. The "humane" solution is to go take the varmint somewhere else and drop it off (to become someone else's problem. I think this solution only makes the humans feel better, because I always imagine a terrified animal dropped off in the middle of unfamiliar territory, uncertain as to where food, shelter, and safety are. How humane is that?) However, who would risk loading up a skunk in a cage into their vehicle and handling the cage to let them loose? Well, what would you do???

Needless to say, the critter was disposed of as humanely as possible, i.e. shot. The only concern is, where there's one, there's likely more.

39 comments:

Judy said...

Bravo! for not dumping the problem in someone else backyard.

By the way skunk is suppose to be good eating. ; >)
http://www.cooks.com/rec/search/0,1-0,skunk,FF.html
http://www.theoldfoodie.com/2013/04/how-to-cook-skunk.html

Harry Flashman said...

Oh.

Tewshooz said...

A few years back we dispatched 9 skunks. There was even a baby on my back porch one morning (cuter than the dickens). It hid under a chest of drawers. We just left it alone and it finally went back outside. We have been getting a whif of that smell for the past few days. I worry about my young hens, although we think they are locked up tight in their coop, skunks can get through very small holes. We catch them with a live animal trap....they love tuna and peanut butter. Raccoons are just as bad.

Dawn McHugh said...

Skunks is something we dont have across the pond thank goodness, I approve of what you did better than dumping it in a strange place, we have problems with townies catching urban foxes and releasing them into the forest they cant hunt they live by scavenging bins so they die slow painful deaths :-)

Leigh said...

Judy, thanks for the links. Dan wanted to save the pelt and we talked about eating it and had looked at some YouTube videos, but it spayed and flies were everywhere. He hates killing animals and he hates waste even worse.

Leigh said...

If it makes you feel any better, Dan still feels badly about the whole thing. Not a good situation to be in.

Leigh said...

When I was a kid my folks had some friends who had a pet skunk. Their vet had removed the scent gland, although even as an adult it had a vague skunky smell. It seemed to make a good pet.

Leigh said...

I've been guilty of releasing caught live animals elsewhere and always feel badly about that too. Animals don't take abrupt changes well and then other folks just have to deal with them. Not fair to anybody.

Ed said...

We have an outbuilding on our farm where we store salvaged lumber and one day upon entering it, I was greated by a mama skunk and eight or so baby skunks all looking at me in surprise. By the time I got the 22, she was gone so I ended up tying a plastic toy shovel to the end of a 12 foot piece of wood and carefully scooping up the babies one at a time and dropping them into a bucket. I then carried the bucket, at the end of the same 12 foot piece of wood, out a ways from the farm and released them. 12 feet wasn't nearly enough to avoid their smell but at least it was far enough not to permanently get the stink into me or the clothes. We just blocked up the entrance hole to the outbuilding and I never saw any of them again.

Sandy said...

Leigh,

One down............how many more to go?? Congrats!!!
Now can I hire Dan to take care of the family of skunks residing in the woods next to our home?? The only time we smell skunk is when someone or some critter cuts through the woods and scares the skunks. It's more like the skunks are security around here, lol....

PioneerPreppy said...

I have dispatched a number of skunks over the years here. Luckily I haven't had to deal with one lately though as the dogs keep them away pretty good these days. The last one walked right into my shop and looked at me in broad daylight a couple of years ago then wandered over and started scratching at my bee hives. I waited until it was far enough away from the house and did him in. Skunks love to eat honey bees and will bother the hives at night so if you see any scratches around the hive entrances then that is usually what is doing it.

Farmer Barb said...

Wow. All this skunk experience. Three nights ago, one was crossing the road right in front of us. My husband was safely able to swerve and miss the little devil, tail down, thank you very much! When they have found the buffet, you have to either be a crazy excluder or you have to be a sharp shooter. That is it. Sorry, Dan. Imagine how I felt having to drop a bloated dead deer at the dump because I didn't know how to butcher it.
Wasted meat is awful. It makes me feel bad for weeks. A death for nothing.

DFW said...

We had a family living in one of the piles on the property at the country house, before we built. They were very cute as mama would bring them out at dusk I think there were 3 or 4 little ones. Thank goodness we haven't seen or smelled any since then. My sister has problems with them using her yard & adjacent field as a pass through. Some of them are yellow & black instead of white & black, those smell without spraying.

Renee Nefe said...

When we lived in Texas there was a field behind our house. It seemed in the hottest part of summer that the skunks would just release their scent for the fun of it or something...the smell was so bad you could taste it. One time hubby put the trash bag just on the porch instead of in the can...we woke to a skunk eating our old moldy trash. It didn't care at all that we had turned on the light, it finally left when we rattled the door knob...more likely it had ate all the food.
Here our subdivision is situated with large parcels of land (ranch & park) around it so we get quite a bit of wild life. We frequently have dead skunks on the road, like the other day. Unfortunately our Animal Control does not pick up skunks...just deer. :-/ so we get to live with the stink.

Mark said...

It doesn't happen very often but we've generally dispatched them also. In our area, at least, they tend to be rabies carriers. The operating principle for most folks around here is that you don't hunt them at night unless they are really causing you grief and if you see them out during the day while you're out and about they are almost certainly ailing from rabies or from one of a couple of different parasites that effect brain function.

Zyla the dog, an apparent slow learner, has had memorable encounters with seemingly healthy skunks several times. We've found a great skunk odor remover (Nature's Miracle Skunk Odor Remover) and keep one the big bottles on hand. It's been a over a year and, her being not the sharpest tool in the shed, we fear she's due for another round.

Lynda D said...

I just asked my hubby if he could think of am Australian animal that had such a smell and his answer was Tony Abbot, our Prime Minister.

Leigh said...

Ed, that's a great story. Not sure if i would have thought to do the same; not sure what I would have done! At least they found a home elsewhere.

Leigh said...

Hoping none more but not confident of that! It's tough living near skunks, so I suppose you just hope they don't get scared very often. LOL

Leigh said...

Yikes! I didn't know they liked honeybees! Fortunately this one left my hive alone, but it's another reason to be glad the skunk is gone.

Leigh said...

Yeah, these situations are tough, because waste makes it worse. We always hope to be better prepared for the next situation, but who would have thought it would be a skunk!

Leigh said...

They are very cute critters except for that adorable scent! I've not seen a yellow and black one, but my stepmom told me some skunks are dribblers. I think we had one of those.

Leigh said...

Your animal control won't pick up dead skunks? How nice! They are pretty bold little critters, and why not? Nobody will mess with them after they get a whiff.

Leigh said...

Mark, I've been thinking that a dog would help deter them, but maybe not! Thanks for the odor remover recommendation too. I need to find some of that and keep it on hand too.

Leigh said...

LOL! I don't know if anything compares with a skunk. Not a scent you'd want to seek out, for sure.

Cozy Thyme Cottage said...

Oh yuk! Glad I am not you! Nancy

Michelle said...

This must be the year for them, because we just killed one a few weeks ago. We had lost six hens over a two month period. Initially we thought it was a 'possum, but when Wayne went to shut the henhouse at dusk and was greeted by a skunk ducking INTO it, we quickly learned that our predictor was far more potent! It took a good hour to get a clear shot, but the skunk was eliminated. Unfortunately, the hen house still reeks.

Michelle said...

*predator

Leigh said...

I'm just thankful Dan was here to do something about it!

Leigh said...

Oh no, More bad news about skunks. Glad you got it and I'm glad ours never made it into the hen house.

Danne George said...

The only sad news about the skunk, is that it could have a litter of babies that are now alone. There is a safe way to carry them, actually some animal controls will pick them up from you and release them. But if you cover the trap with a dark towel or blanket, you will not be sprayed, they don't spray to movement. I did this all the time the 5 years I worked as an Animal Control Officer.

Danne George said...

One other important fact, Skunks are high risk for Rabies, probably best you did not eat it. Opposum's are medium risk. I have raised baby Opposum's and they make great pets. So do skunks, once they have had scent glands removed. They do still smell a bit musky but not bad. They are funny and playful little critters.

M.K. said...

Oh, man, you are brave! I feel sorry for your scared kitties :( I hope that was a lone skunk.

Leigh said...

Danne, thank you for taking the time to comment. The possibility of young is always a concern in such cases, but we figured it likely that this time of year the young would be weaned and on their own. Not that I know anything about the family life of skunks, but that is certainly what we hoped.

Leigh said...

Yikes, I didn't think about rabies. Fortunately our cats stayed clear. When I was a kid my folks had friends who had a pet skunk. Like you said, it smelled musky, but not bad. What a character it was! Always into something.

Leigh said...

Unfortunately another one showed up a couple nights later! Then the other day there was a dead one in the street that had been hit by a car. We don't know if it was that same 2nd one or a different one. I'm just trying to keep an eye out for evidence as to whether another skunk is around.

Jake said...

You can attach a strip of wood to the front of the hive with nails (or something else sharp) pointing upwards to deter skunks from scratching at the entrance. It probably goes without saying, but the distance between nails should be larger than "bee" but smaller than "skunk paw."

Jayne Hill said...

Thankfully we don't have skunk in England. It is good to read your attitude towards the 'humane' solution - I've often thought it is cruel to abandon any creature in an unfamiliar location not knowing where to find food, water, shelter.

Leigh said...

I think the live animal trap concept is one of those things that I was talking about in my most recent post - it sounds good but most of us don't really think the thing through. But it is very difficult to kill an animal simply because they exist in the wrong place ore are doing something that is frustrating or destructive from our point of view. The times I've released live animals, I confess to feeling quite cowardly afterward, and worry that the animal might suffer because of that.

Unknown said...

Speaking of things you just don't think through...My 11 y.o daughter had a rabbit wreak havoc with her garden this summer so I brought a live trap home from the farm. Caught the rabbit and the wife and daughter took it out to the farm for swimming lessons. Daughter resets the trap because I told her there were probably more. Weeks go by and then my wife sends me an E-mail at work one morning..."Beverly caught a skunk in her live trap. Your Plan?" Then they ran errands all afternoon.

I got off work, and changed into my shabbiest clothes and then draped a blanket over the live trap. I then put the blanket and trap into a box and was carrying it towards the car. Just then, the wife and daughter pull up. I said to Beverly, "You know we have a policy in our family that if you go fishing, you take the hooks out of your fish...The same applies for trapping skunks." "All right Dad" she finally said. I can assure you the only thing worse than driving 15 miles with a skunk in the back seat of your car is having a nervous high strung pre-teen girl talking non-stop for 15 miles and the only thing worse than that is having both in your car at the same time. We got about two city blocks and I had to roll down the windows of the car because my eyes were watering so bad from the smell. We got to the farm and dunked the skunk and then I dug a hole in the garden at the farm and we buried the skunk. Smell went out of the car after about a week. It sits in the hot sun and bakes in the parking lot all day and the smell isn't noticeable anymore.

RonC