Month of love for skunks creates problems in Abilene

ABILENE, Texas - February is the beginning of mating season for skunks.

Abilene Animal Control reports an increase in the number of calls they have received about skunks roaming around town.

The City of Abilene released the following tips in a press release on how to keep the skunks away from your home and pets:

1. Do not feed the skunks.  They can easily become dependent on human food sources.

2. Never leave pet food outside, particularly at night.

3. Never discard edible garbage where skunks can get to it.

4. Secure garbage containers and eliminate their odors.  Use a small amount of ammonia or cayenne pepper in the garbage to discourage scavenging.

5. A persistent, faint skunk odor around a hole leading under a foundation or deck indicates a skunk me be present.  To find out, cover the hole with loose dirt; if a skunk is in residence, it will dig out during the night.  Allow three days for this test; if dirt remains undisturbed, then close the opening with masonry, boards, or hardware cloth.

6. Install one-way doors on entrances to skunk dens, allowing the skunk to leave at night but barring it from re-entering.  Watch for any new holes.  Do not use one-way doors during May through August, when babies bay be in the den.  If the mother cannot return, the babies will starve.  This is inhumane and can also cause odor problems.

7. Place mothball-filled socks and/or sprinkle cayenne pepper around your yard to discourage digging.

8. Start a nontoxic insect-control program (especially for grubs) to discourage digging.

9. Fences are effective as long as they are buried at least 1 ½ feet in the ground.

10. If a skunk strays into your garage, leave a door to the outside open and let the skunk exit on its own.

11. Securely enclose poultry, especially at night.  Repair all openings in coop or fencing.  Fencing should extend 6 to 8 inches underground to prevent skunks and other animals from digging under.

12. Debris and brush piles should be removed or stacked neatly to eliminate suitable cavities.

13. Blow-up or plastic great horned owls may be strategically placed and periodically moved to deter skunks.

14. Lighting up of denning sites and a portable radio may cause the skunk to seek a more suitable habitat.

15. Keep pet doors closed at night to prevent entry by a skunk.

16. Keep fruit trees picked and don't leave rotted fruit on the ground.

17. Restrict use of birdseed.  Skunks are attracted to it and to the birds and rodents that use the feeder.

18. If possible, eliminate outdoor sources of water.

19. Battery operated flashing lights, tape recorded human noises, scattered moth balls and ammonia-soaked rags strategically placed may deter skunks from entering your yard.

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