Spring is here! Many of us are relishing the warmer weather, the sweet aroma of Spring flowers, the unmistakable scent of fresh cut grass, or even the smell of morning dew. While this time of year is bounding with beauty overwhelming to your senses, it is also a time of increased wildlife activity, which means you may need to take measures to prevent exposure to another common odor of Spring- skunk musk.
Late February through March marks breeding season for skunks in Ohio. Out and about searching for food and a mate, it’s not uncommon to find an unexpected visitor in your garage or shed, under your deck, or digging a den elsewhere on your property. During these few months, pregnant females are also preparing for their litters of 2-10 kits to arrive between May and Early June.
There are many ways to prevent drawing the unwanted attention of skunks to your property.
- Do NOT feed wildlife
- Make sure bird feeders are only accessible by birds
- Do NOT let spilled food accumulate
- Do not leave pet food outside
- Store garbage with tight fitting lids
- Only put trash out when it is scheduled for pick up
- Fence gardens and cover fruit trees and berry bushes with netting
- After first making certain you will not be trapping any animal inside, ensure holes next to structures are filled with dirt or concrete or covered with sturdy mesh
- Remove cover which skunks may find appealing: brush, woodpiles, lush vegetation, old vehicles, etc.
If a skunk becomes a nuisance, you will most likely find the options presented to you by local animal or pest removal services to be less than ideal. There are a set of Ohio laws that regulate the removal of nuisance animals from private property. Because skunks, along with opossums, raccoons, coyotes, foxes, and beavers, present a high potential risk for rabies, Ohio Administrative Code section 1501:31-15-03 (E)(3) mandates that animals trapped on private property CANNOT be relocated and must instead be released on the same property or euthanized.
Relocating nuisance animals is not only illegal but also largely ineffective. In completely foreign surroundings, the relocated animal must defend itself from resident animals and also re-learn how to forage in its new environment. The stress of this change is often far too much for an animal to manage, likely leading to its death.
When possible, the best option for both you and the animal is to eliminate the skunk’s access to food and places of shelter on your property. If a family of skunks is calling your home their own, you may consider attempting to drive them out before calling animal control services. According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, this can be done by placing an ammonia soaked cloth or installing a one-way door inside suspected dens, ensuring that all animals have exited, and then permanently sealing off all points of entry.
For those in central Ohio, to best manage nuisance skunks or any nuisance wildlife on your property, contact SCRAM! SCRAM is a service of the Ohio Wildlife Center that provides “non-lethal human-wildlife conflict resolutions to home and business owners.” While SCRAM! is a fee based service, all proceeds support the Ohio Wildlife Center. –Ashlee Marand
Ashlee Marand is a fourth year student at The Ohio State University. With an Animal Science major and Bioscience minor, Ashlee is striving to embrace her “right brain” through writing, a hobby that brings her great joy. Interested to read more? Sniff out her site at labandlab.wordpress.com.