Our Northwest

Stinky young skunks now flexing their freedom

Tuesday, September 20, 2016by  Jon Osterberg

Four times in the past two weeks, my wife and I were driving somewhere when one of us exclaimed, "Eww, skunk!"
     Only one of those times did I actually see a skunk, slightly squished on the side of the road. The other times we saw no visual proof.
     But for sure it was skunk, not marijuana from someone smoking in our now weed-legal state.
     This morning a colleague sent me a link to an article titled, "Why you are smelling skunks this week." Serendipitous!
     I learned a lot about the striped little stinkers. For example:

  • Skunks are loners, very shy, and they're nocturnal. You could have them living in burrows under your shed or wood pile and not even know it.
  • They give birth in early spring, and after two months the babies – called kits – join mom to go foraging for garbage and insects.
  • By early September, the kits seek their independence and leave home. So we now have adolescent skunks still learning the ways of the world, entirely out on their own.
  • Skunks have a keen sense of smell and hearing, but bad eyesight. That hinders them in encounters with dogs – which aren't smart enough to avoid them – and vehicles.
     And that's probably why we're smelling that musky stench this time of year. Young, inexperienced skunks are out there prowling around, spraying any perceived threats.
     One way to limit skunk encounters around your home is to treat them like rodents (which they are not; they're omnivores, like weasels) and do away with what lures them, such as pet food left outside overnight. Read how to critter-proof your property.

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