If your house has been sprayed by a skunk on multiple occasions or your pet has been caught in your yard by a skunk, the skunk might be living on your property.
"They don’t travel a lot," said Bob Bryerton, facility coordinator at Plum Creek Nature Center in Beecher.
Checking your yard for skunk activity is fairly simple. Bryerton cautioned that you want to go looking for signs of skunks during the day, when you are less likely to get sprayed. Then, once outside your building, look for two things: areas where concrete or wood around the steps or deck look amiss or holes in your yard.
The openings for skunks needs to be about the size of a small cat.
"They’re about the size of a house cat 3.5 to 10-11 pounds," Bryerton said.
They generally don’t dig their own burrows, they use a hold from another animal," Bryerton said.
In addition to using abandon ground burrows, skunks will also use stumps, buildings, or rock or brush piles as den sites, the University of Illinois Extention states.
Locating the openings is the first step. You then have to figure out if the holes are active.
"If you do have them already under your deck, you can put flour on the ground and watch for footprints the next day," Bryerton said. "Since they do go out at night, seal up the hold when they are gone and they can’t get back in they will find another spot."
University of Illinois Extension explains what a skunk paw print looks like.
"Skunk tracks look somewhat similar to cat tracks, but skunks have five toes, and cats have four toes," the Web site states. "Another way to distinguish between the two species are the claw marks. Cat claws are retractable and do not show in their tracks. The claw marks of skunks are usually present. They will be longer on the tracks of the front feet than on the longer hind feet."
The University of Illinois Extension also suggests that you can stuff newspaper in what looks like the hole or burrow in the morning or afternoon. If the paper had not been moved a couple days later, you can seal off the hole.
In addition to watching for burrows, owners of homes with fences have to be cautious to keep skunks from entering and exiting yards.
"Skunks generally don’t climb fences, they may dig under it, (but) they won’t spend a lot of effort trying to dig around that," Bryerton said.
In addition to the above tips, the University of Illinois gives the following tips.
- Secure garbage cans and close dumpster lids at night.
- Control rodent populations.
- Do not leave pet food outdoors at night.
- Remove brush or wood piles.
- Control lawn grubs.