Okay, girls. We need to talk about something. Real life skunks are not AT ALL like what you see in cartoons or Disney movies. In real life, they are not even like what you see in animal lovers photos. There is some photoshopping going on. I have now seen 3 skunks in real life trying to break into my coop. They were not clean. Their eyes were not bright and friendly. Their teeth were menacing. And no one should take a photo of a skunk next to flowers! This is political propaganda. It is true that if you had asked me just a year ago to classify skunks on the continuum of desirability and cute in the environment, the most I would have held against them is that they smell when they get hit by a car. But there is way more to the story than that.
Skunks are chicken eating weapons of chemical warfare against your whole household. Many websites say skunks are “less likely to attack adult birds, than small chicks” but I find little comfort in the statistics related to their eating habits when they HAVE eaten my grown birds (the heads were missing, the odor was there, and they continue to try to get into the pens). They are relentless. It may be that one fox will kill more chickens at once, statistically. But if I have skunks setting up camp in my backyard and looking for whatever they can find to eat, it seems to me that skunks are more statistically likely to be eating MY chickens. The foxes seem to visit once in a while to see if the restaurant is open, but skunks are like gypsies, taking over private property in destructive ways.
They are not friendly and they do not give you the benefit of the doubt before they spray you or your family dog. (Find out how to get most of the smell of skunk off your dog) All you have to do is be there. You don’t have to be doing anything in particular. You dog may just be innocently walking by, in it’s own fenced backyard. What about when my grandkids are big enough to play out there? Skunks are terrorists of the worst kind.
Here is my specific list of good reasons to just kill skunks that invade:
- They may transmit rabies to your pets.
- They will regularly spray your pets, especially your dog, as it tries to do it’s job of monitoring it’s territory.
- They will eat your hard earned eggs.
- They have no qualms about killing chickens, large or small.
- If you try to let them go somewhere, it had better be a long way away, because they will come back.
- What about the poor wild birds trying to live where you increase the skunk population by unnaturally relocating them?
- What about the country skunks that have been trying to eek out survival in the wilderness that now have to compete?
- What about all the fossil fuels being used up to relocate the skunk to someplace it isn’t wanted and might not even survive? (Yes, this is tongue in cheek. There is no proof we are running out of fuels or that we need to be concerned about it, but I’d just as soon not waste my gas money on skunks, either.)
- What about the farmers and homesteaders out there that then have to deal with an enlarging skunk population because people keep “dropping them off”?
- It’s not any different than killing a rat or snake, or anything else that is digs unwanted holes and eats your supplies and spreads disease.
- They are considered a noxious predator that the Idaho government has no interest in helping you take care of. (not that I want them to, but an animal must be pretty bad to not be protected by wildlife management) You might as well try calling animal control to help get rid of your mice or termites.
As I have had to deal with the onslaught of skunks on my property, people have offered some … creative … ideas about how to deal with them. My favorite is still the one my dad came up with, and that I finally had to implement by myself in helpless female versus the skunk. But just in case something else might fit your needs better is here a list:
- sit around at dusk and shoot the skunk in the fading light
- sit near the hole holding a sack ready to grab it with; once it is in the sack, tie it closed and put it in the trash. DO NOT open the trash can until after pick-up.
- poison it (very risky with pets and children around)
- lure it into an irrigation pipe, then block the end and fill it with water
- catch it in a trap, then shoot it (hard to get close enough to hit cleanly through the open spaces without damaging the trap)
- catch it in a trap, then hold the skunk-filled trap in a water trough or swimming pool until the skunk is drowned (I had better not find anyone trying that with my swimming pool!)
- train your dog to kill skunks (but you’ll never be able to go near your dog)
- electrocute it (not safe or easy)
- run over it with a car (surely you know better than that)
And that is my skunk review for the realistic chicken farmer. Grouped as similar to weasels, with worse cologne, skunks are sneaky. Sure they are trying to survive, but the only ones that are going to are the ones that live somewhere else. Judging by the constant roadkill, there is not shortage of skunks and they are not having any trouble reproducing.