Love is in the air, and it stinks

February is skunk mating season; here's how to make the animals keep their distance from your property

Deanna Barth of Wildlife Emergency Services San Benito said the beginning of skunk mating season in February should encourage locals to take steps to prevent the creatures from moving onto their property.

Here is her advice:

Skunk mating season begins in February. You will begin to see (and smell) more skunks because they are roaming, seeking each other out and looking for potential den sites.

Skunks are not nocturnal, but rather, crepuscular, meaning they are most active at dawn and dusk. Although it is uncommon to see one out during the day, if you do, don’t assume it is sick. It could have been chased by a predator, flushed out of its den by rain or in the spring it may be a hungry mother in search of food for her family. Keep your distance and call me or the closest wildlife center if you are concerned about a skunk’s behavior. As a homeowner, there are many things you can do to prevent skunks from moving on to your property – don’t give them a reason to stay.

Wild animals, such as skunks, opossums and raccoons are considered a nuisance by many, but remember they are a symptom of the problem. Trapping one animal only makes room for another to move in. Humane exclusion will solve the issue long-term.

These animals cross our properties every night in search of food, water and shelter. If we remove these things, they will continue on. Do not leave cat food outside. You are leaving out the welcome mat if you do – they love it! Don’t leave out bird feeders. Bird seed draws in small rodents, a food source for the skunks. If you have fruit trees in your yard, be sure to clean up the fallen fruit from the ground. Keep your garbage lids on tight.

Now is the time to check your property for potential den sites and seal up any holes under your house, deck and shed before they move in. (Be sure you’re not sealing them in!) Skunks can dig but they are horrible climbers. You can easily prevent them from entering your backyard by making sure your gates are closed and the fence is secure.

Contrary to popular belief, skunks are gentile, non-aggressive animals. They’re natural exterminators, eating a variety of unwanted pests including mice, grubs, termites and black widow spiders. They are great to have in your garden but they’ve earned a bad reputation because of their pungent odor. It’s actually difficult for a person to be sprayed by a skunk because they give you a warning by stamping their front feet. If you see this, back away. Unfortunately, our pets do not heed this warning. If your dog gets sprayed you can bathe them with one quart Hydrogen Peroxide, a quarter cup baking soda, and one teaspoon of Dawn dish soap. Massage into the fur for a few minutes and then rinse well.

Hope this information helps everyone prepare for skunk season. If you have questions or concerns about skunks, please let me know.

For more information, visit Wildlife Emergency Services San Benito's Facebook page or call (831) 708-(WILD) 9453.

BenitoLink Staff