How to Get Rid of Skunks

So, you’ve spotted a flash of black-and-white fur scrambling around your yard. You’re noticing divots being dug up in the lawn, the garbage cans rifled through—and, perhaps worst of all—you are smelling that unmistakable funky odor. It’s official: A skunk (or a whole family of them) has decided your property seems like a pretty nice place to hang out.

Skunks may look cuddly, with their distinctive striped coats and fluffy tails, but these deceptively cute animals are one of wildlife’s biggest nuisances to humans. Not only do they wreak havoc on landscaping when digging for insects and grubs, but they also spread infectious diseases with their droppings, and cause structural problems to your house by burrowing under porches and sheds. Let’s not forget that they use their uniquely musky spray defense on anything that threatens them, including your household pets and perhaps even you.

It probably goes without saying that these animals do not make peaceful neighbors. Fortunately, there are several easy and humane methods to deter them from taking up residence in your yard. Here are a few ideas to try that will likely send the critters packing, all of which are totally harmless to kids, pets, property, the environment, or the skunks themselves.

1. Make Them Think a Predator is Nearby

How do you scare the daylights out of a skunk? Simulate the presence of a natural predator, such as a fox or a coyote, and they will hightail it out of your immediate area. This is much easier than it sounds. We as humans are visually oriented and usually need to see something in order to be frightened, but just a good whiff of something fox-y smelling will do the trick to deter a meandering skunk.

The best way to do this is to sprinkle predator urine around your property. Before you raise an eyebrow—no, we aren’t suggesting you find an actual fox and recruit it to water your lawn. Believe it or not, fox urine (sans the fox) is readily available for purchase. It is easy to use via special dispensers and ground stakes, some of which are time-released and/or weather resistant. The urine won’t bother your nose, but it will send the message—and quickly—to your unwelcome guests.

2. Try a Humane Trap

Trapping any skunks in a cage seems like a no-brainer—just set the trap up with some yummy bait and wait for them to come and get it. From there, it’s just a matter of relocating them to a more habitable place (i.e., far away from your house). However, there are a few things to consider when trapping skunks that make this endeavor unique.

It is advisable to use a trap specifically made to capture skunks—because, it bears repeating, these animals can make your life miserable in a way that, say, a raccoon or squirrel can’t. Spare your olfactory sense and choose a skunk trap with a design that limits its movement, so it cannot lift its tail and spray.

A trap that is opaque and doesn’t let the skunk see outside its walls is also advisable, to further minimize the threat of getting a squirt of the smelly stuff from a terrified animal. These traps come in various price ranges, and work best when you have a good idea of where the skunks are camping out (look for holes, burrow tracks, etc.) so you can place appropriately.

Once you have trapped the skunk, you’ll need to take into account the safest way to release it. In particular, mind the local regulations of your particular state and county regarding animal trapping and release.

3. Shine a Light

Skunks are nocturnal creatures, so hunt for food and do their business once the sun goes down. That means the usual time you’ll catch a glimpse of them is at night. A simple and effective method to break up their after-dark mischief is to startle them with bright lights. Consider a weather-proof flashing solar light which is another readily available product that you can purchase and set up quickly without much fuss. The flashing beams will frighten the skunks and scatter them, with virtually no impact on anything else in your immediate environment.

As a bonus, the lights will also take care of shooing other wildlife that might be wreaking havoc on your home and garden, such as rabbits or rats.

4. Perform Due Diligence

Once you’ve determined the area where the skunks seem to be camping out and then utilized a method to get rid of them, do some simple skunk-proofing to ensure the creatures won’t be tempted to come back in the future. Repair holes in your house construction, patch openings in your fence, fill burrows with gravel, make sure pet food bowls are kept clean and emptied regularly, and replace your garbage can lids if they are cracked or do not fit snugly. If you or your pets have been, unfortunately, sprayed with skunk musk while in the process of eradicating them from your domain, you’ll need to neutralize the odor.

Skunks can certainly be a pain (in the nose), but luckily these cute little pests aren’t too hard to convince to move to a more suitable domicile… that is, far, far away from your yard!