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Thread: How to handle an angry skunk

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    E TN, near Knoxville

    How to handle an angry skunk

    Life on the farm. I've described this before but I took some pictures yesterday. Those who would like to play with skunks might find this useful.

    I should make it clear up front that I have nothing personal against skunks. I see them often at night in my fields and chase them out of the barn when they mess with the animal feed. They eat a lot of destructive grubs and insects, generally mind their own business, and run away when I approach. Also, I very much dislike killing anything, (well, except perhaps yellow jackets and hornets in the process of stinging me or a feral dog trying to eat me for supper or a farm animal that is injured or ill and must be euthanized to put it out of pain - in which case I'll do what needs to be done.)

    But I do take it personally when skunks kill things I want to keep alive. A couple of years ago one burrowed under the wall in my peacock house, climbed up on the roost and pulled down a young female peafowl and ate part of it. Although the bird was only worth $100 or so, this made me upset. The next day that skunk went to skunk heaven.

    The other day I saw another skunk in the peacock house even though I had fortified at the ground with concrete. I watched it run and exit through a little hole where it had pulled screening out of the staples. I spent a couple of hours reinforcing the cage all the way around then set a trap outside the building. This is how I deal with skunks.

    Step 1: Acquire a skunk in a live trap. This is the easiest part. Bait with peanut butter or eggs to avoid catching cats. I put a single cracked guinea egg in this trap. Note that from the time the skunk is trapped until the time I arrive do deal with things it can become quite angry. The following steps do nothing to calm it down. WARNING: do not shoot a skunk unless you are prepared for the aroma. I learned that lesson when 12 years old.


    Step 2: Acquire some accessories. I use a skid made from a piece of plywood big enough to hold the trap. A rope is tied onto holes drilled in the front corners. I put a metal S-hook on a length of rope. A small tarp big enough to cover the entire trap is important. I use a stick with a hook on the end - in this case it's a crook made for catching young lambs or goats by the leg.


    Step 3: Approach the trap from front. I only use live traps with solid steel trap doors. This is important: if the skunk can't see you it won't spray. If the skunk can see you it will probably spray when you get close. I have handled skunks like this at least a dozen times and have never been sprayed. One caveat: immature skunks may not have learned to control themselves and may spray when startled or impulsively. Use caution around young skunks!


    Step 4: Hold the tarp up in front of you, approach, and drape it over the trap. This will also work on traps that don't have a solid trap door. Use the stick to pull the back edges down and around the back of the trap. It's best to cover the trap completely.


    Step 5: Use the stick to lift up the tarp at the front and hook the rope to the front with the S-hook. Remember, the skunk will not spray if it can't see you. Be brave.


    Step 6: Position the skid in front of the trap and using the rope and the stick if needed pull the trap onto the skid.


    Step 7: Grasp the hooked rope, the skid ropes, and perhaps the stick hooked onto the trap and pull the trap to where the skunk will be sent on to the afterlife. I drag the contraption down to the small pond behind the barn and introduce the skunk to underwater diving. If no pond, do what the professionals do - fill a 55-gallong drum with water and lift the through the tarp by the handle and dunk it in the drum. A friend once called me in a panic with a skunk in a trap and I described this method. He called back in a few hours and said it worked perfectly.

    I have pulled this combination of skid and trap over 1/4 mile several times without incident.


    Step 8: With a pond, pull the trap, skid, tarp and all, into the water.


    Step 9: Wait. Be advised that previous experience was confirmed yesterday - a skunk can hold it's breath under water for at least five minutes. This revelation surprised me the first time. I have learned from that.

    Step 10: Use the demise of the skunk to feed the buzzards. Just put it somewhere so buzzards can see it from the air and it will be gone is short order. This is giving back to nature.

    I hope no one has to deal with a skunk. For those who love skunks and object to or are offended by their removal, I apologize. Contact me and I'll save the next one for you!


  2. #2
    John, good tutorial. Buzzards have to eat too. If you get sprayed, I have a deodorizing formula that I know works quite well.
    Lee Schierer
    USNA- '71
    Captain USNR(Ret)

    My advice, comments and suggestions are free, but it costs money to run the site. If you found something of value here please give a little something back by becoming a contributor! Please Contribute

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Lewiston, Idaho
    Thanks for the information John! I was 12 when I learned the valuable lesson about killing a skunk. My mother made me undress outside where all the neighbors could see before she'd let me in the house. She buried the clothes in the backyard and I got a glowing scrubdown!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Upstate NY
    In my old age I have started to like the smell. They say about 0.1% of people do, and I guess something in my nose has died.
    Don't think I would like be sprayed though.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2015
    N. Texas
    If you leave the trap, ahh... I mean, 'mesh travel trailer' on the skid, or the trailer will slide on its own, just pre-attach a long rope to it - and stretch it out in the intended direction of, uhmm...vacation travel. Once a resident moves in, you can simply take the other end of the rope and relocate said resident to said beachfront swim spa. Or pull it up a 2x6 ramp to their new 55 gal pool.

    Can be done w/o a tarp generally. And no need to buy a new unscented tarp. DAMHIKT.

    Granted this is a Texas-style vacation. Compared to Tennessee, we have significantly fewer trees to impede these towed vacations.
    Molann an obair an saor.

    If Heaven ain't alot like Texas, I don't wanna go. - Hank Jr.

  6. #6
    i had a similar experience.. we had a plague of skunks around our place a few years ago. We live on a farm. We had several outdoor cats that did a good job of keeping the mouse and rat population down. Problem is the skunks would eat all the cat food I put out. I shot a couple of them a ways away from the house. I caught one in a live trap inside our barn. I covered the trap with a blue tarp and then pulled the trap outside with a long wire. I had been told by people in the know that as long as you keep a skunk covered with A tarp it will not spray and thatís the way it worked for me. Then I pulled my pickup near the trap and put a down spout on the pickup tailpipe,put the other end under the trap and tarp, and let the truck run for about 10 minutes. The skunk was dead, no mess and not a whiff of skunk smell. Mission accomplished.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Have heard that the spray can be hard on the eyes so goggles are a good precaution.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Hayes, Virginia
    Most of the commercially made skunk traps are made from round pipe. Years ago a friend of mine who grew up in West Virginia told me that a skunk cannot spew unless it can grab hold of something with its paws. If this is true it makes sense that a round pipe would not provide anything for the paws to grip and safer to transport.

  9. #9
    A few years back I was trying to encourage a momma skunk and her litter to depart the premises. Everything went well but one of the babies was angered or scared and let go its spray. There are just as noxious as an adult.
    Mike Null

    St. Louis Laser, Inc.

    Trotec Speedy 300, 80 watt
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  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    E TN, near Knoxville
    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Null View Post
    A few years back I was trying to encourage a momma skunk and her litter to depart the premises. Everything went well but one of the babies was angered or scared and let go its spray. There are just as noxious as an adult.
    Yes, in step 3: "One caveat: immature skunks may not have learned to control themselves and may spray when startled or impulsively. Use caution around young skunks!"

    One very small skunk sprayed (all over himself, I assume) when I didn't see him and walked past, within 5-10' I think. Fortunately for me he wasn't spraying at me. At first whiff I switched from strolling to overdrive to put the barn between me and he.

    I read that a mature skunk has learned not to spray indiscriminately since it takes a while to regenerate a full charge. This might explain why the trap can be handled, even roughly, and why I've been able to shoo them out of the barn when they have a clear exit path. Or maybe I've just been very lucky! I'll definitely not try that with a little one.


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