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Posted: May 16, 2020

Striped skunk sightings on the rise

You may not have sighted a skunk in your neighbourhood…yet! But have smelled one’s musk!

To reduce the potential for conflict with any wildlife, it is important to understand a bit about the life history and habits of the species. Skunks are mainly crepuscular which means they are most active at dawn and dusk and spend the daytime hours in underground burrows.

Did you know?

  • Skunks rarely dig their own burrows, preferring to use abandoned dens of other animals, or by finding crevices and gaps under porches or buildings.
  • Skunks have long, sharp claws on their front feet which serve as effective tools for digging for mice, grubs and other underground prey.
  • Skunks spend the winter months in deep underground dens in a state of inactivity. While solitary for the rest of the year, skunks may den in groups of up to twenty individuals.
  • Skunks are opportunistic omnivores, feeding upon a wide variety of foods including insects, plants, berries, rodents and eggs.
  • Infamous for their distinctive smell, skunks spray a pungent liquid into the face of potential predators as an effective defence mechanism.

How to coexist with skunks by managing attractants carefully:

  • Seal up any holes or potential entrances to outbuildings and chicken coops and be sure to shut doors overnight. Please be advised that sealing up holes should not be done between the months of May-August as the young might be trapped there while the adult female is out foraging.
  • Store all feed in a secure location and ensure feeding areas are clean and free of attractants.
  • Keeping small livestock closed overnight can go a long way in reducing predation by skunks and other predators.
  • Motion-activated lights, sprinklers or even radios may help deter skunks from foraging in gardens, lawns and orchards.
  • Children should be taught not to approach any wildlife; serious bites and scratches may result from an encounter with a skunk.

Submitted by Danica Roussy, Kimberley/Cranbrook WildSafeBC Community Coordinator

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