Skip to content

Skunks numbers on the rise in the East Kootenay

Kimberley and area has seen, and smelled, an increase in skunk presence of late, and therefore there is an increased risk for human, or pet, conflicts, according to a press release from WildSafeBC.

Kimberley and area has seen, and smelled, an increase in skunk presence of late, and therefore there is an increased risk for human, or pet, conflicts, according to a press release from WildSafeBC.

Skunks defend themselves by spraying a pungent liquid into the face of their potential predators. Often times human conflicts with the distinctive black and white mammals occurs when they damage lawns seeking grubs to eat, when they seek shelter under buildings, or when they interact with our pets.

“Skunks are typically shy, timid animals, but given their tendency to live in urban and suburban settings, they can sometimes come into conflict with humans,” Wildsafe said.

“Skunks can thrive in backyards and farm fields, sleeping away the daylight hours under a porch or shed and coming out in the evenings to forage. They can be effective rodent control, but they may also damage lawns as they dig up insects and worms. Being opportunistic omnivores, skunks can also be attracted into yards by things like unsecured garbage, fallen birdseed, windfall fruit and pet food.”

The musk skunks spray, as anyone who has experienced it will well know, is not only extremely pungent, but also very difficult to get rid of, be it on your pet’s fur, your clothes, or just lingering in the air. As a result, it’s only natural for humans to not necessarily want them making a home in their backyard.

Skunks are native to B.C. and are a Schedule B protected species under the BC Wildlife Act. This permits property owners, or agents working with their permission, to remove skunks from a property without permit if they are causing damage.

However, WildSafe points out that removal is usually only a short-term solution and skunks, or other wildlife, will re-occupy the site if it is still a suitable habitat. It is therefore advisable to hire a qualified pest management contractor, but before doing so, perhaps consider the following options.

Secure things that attract skunks such as garbage, pet food, bird seed and compost. The rise in human populations correlates with a rise in such things, which then creates an increase in skunk populations.

Alter the quality of their potential living space by removing brush and wood piles, using motion-activated lights, sprinklers or a bright light or radio in or near the den site. Also prevent access to your own home, sheds and garages by sealing up potential entrance using wire mesh.

Skunks are adept diggers, however, so you may need to extend the wire below ground.

“If you want to exclude a skunk from an occupied den, it is best to do so after dark when you know the skunk has left,” WildSafeBC said. “Alternatively, you can fix a hinged piece of mesh wire over the entrance that an animal can push to get out of the den, but cannot get back in. Keep in mind there is usually more than one entrance to a den.”

If you, or your pet, are sprayed by a skunk, the best bet for neutralizing the smell is a solution of hydrogen peroxide, baking soda and dish soap. Be careful not to get it in your eyes, or your pet’s eyes.

The spray is not a vector for transmitting disease, and skunks are not known to be a carrier of rabies in the province. However, they can transmit distemper to your pet with a bite or scratch. Distemper is a highly contagious, incurable and often fatal viral disease affecting the respiratory, gastrointestinal and central nervous systems.

It is important to take your pet to a veterinarian if you think it’s been bitten or scratched by a skunk.

If you are bitten or scratched by an animal you suspect has rabies, first wash the wound with soap and water and then seek immediate medical attention.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

About the Author: Paul Rodgers

Read more