Skunks are some of the most obnoxious of all nuisance wildlife to have to deal with. Besides being notoriously smelly and ruining the day of many over curious dogs, skunks also destroy lawns by their persistent grubbing. Faced with a prowling skunk, many homeowners decide to try trapping the animal themselves. This article will give you some practical do-it-yourself advice to help you be prepared before you start trapping.
1. Identifying the Skunk Den
Your chances of trapping a skunk increase dramatically if you can identify the den. Skunks can range a mile or so when feeding at night, so its important to try to determine whether the skunk actually lives in your yard or is just roaming through from somewhere else.
Skunks are not picky about dens. Woodpiles, hollow logs, under decks, in brush, or the empty dens of other animals can all become home to a skunk. How do you know if a skunk is denning on your property or just ranging through from somewhere else? If you see or smell skunks on your property consistently – multiple times per week – you probably have a den on your property. If you only smell the skunks periodically they are probably just foraging.
If you have seen skunks routinely in a single area, the den is probably near the area where you have been seeing the activity.
2. Positive Set Trapping
If you can’t identify the location of the den, you can certainly still trap, but the likelihood that you will catch an off-target animal increases. Many homeowners hoping to catch a skunk check the trap in the morning only to see an opossum staring dumbly up at them. So, if you don’t know where the den is, be prepared to have to catch and release a few off-targets.
If you know the location of the skunk’s den, a positive set trap is the way to go. A positive set is a trap that is set up so the animal is forced to go through it as it leaves the den. Most positive set traps are double-door traps; they have a door on each side that allows the animal to come in either way. By using a positive-set, you can avoid having to deal with baiting the trap. The animal has to go through anyway to get in or out of the den, so there is not so much reliance on bait – though bait can still be used as an incentive.
The most common positive set is the Comstock double-door trap, seen below:
If you have no idea where the den is, a standard single-door trap will be what you’ll need:
And…with a single door trap, you’ll need to bait. For what its worth, skunks seem fond of Cheetos.
3. But wait…there’s more! Trap-Wrapping
But wait! Don’t set your traps out yet. There’s one more step.
The biggest danger with handling skunks is obviously that they tend to spray when frightened. How do Creature Control technicians trap skunks without getting sprayed?
Skunks spray when they get alarmed. Their sense of alarm or danger is typically sight-based. That is to say, a skunk will spray based on a danger it sees. It follows then that if it cannot see, it is much less likely to spray.
This is why our technicians always wrap our skunk traps in cardboard before setting them. Measure and cut the cardboard and secure with duct tape. With the trap wrapped, the skunk cannot see what is going on outside the trap. The chances of getting sprayed go down dramatically. With wrapped traps, our technicians can safely pick up and transport trapped skunks.
Below, we can see our technician has set up a series of positive set traps outside a skunk den. Knowing he will be dealing with skunks, the traps are covered with cardboard to deter the skunk from spraying:
The traps are secured in place with two heavy stones to prevent the skunk from jostling them. This is an ideal set up for a large hole that has been positively identified as the den. But even if the den has not been identified, the traps should always be wrapped. In fact, anytime you ground trap – even if you are not trying to catch a skunk – the traps should be wrapped just in case a skunk wanders in by accident.
4. Releasing the Skunk
Let’s say you have done everything right and you trap the skunk. Now that you have it safely in the cage, what do you do with it?
One thing to not do: do not try shooting it. Even if you get a clear, lethal shot that kills it instantly, the skunk’s reflexes will cause it to spray immediately.
The best thing to do is merely set the cage down, open it up, and walk away. The skunk will meander out on its own. Is this method guaranteed spray-proof? Heck no. Anytime you’re dealing with a skunk, there is always the potential that something will go drastically wrong.
Many people prefer to simply let the professionals deal with it. If you are in need of skunk trapping services in southern Michigan – or if you have trapped a skunk and want Creature Control to dispose of it for you – please give us a call at 800-441-1519, or hit up up via email at Creature Control’s contact page.