Skunks-Prevention and Solutions

Skunks have been here longer than the buildings we live in. Their populations may thin out for a few years, and then explode back up for a couple of generations. Weather conditions, such as mild winters, can change their habits and contribute to breeding twice a year at times.

Skunks can be beneficial at times. They tend to eat a lot of wasps, bees, crickets, beetles, and beetle larvae (grubs). They are useful in thinning populations of small rodents such as mice or voles. When they can't find living creatures they do eat carrion and even fruit and vegetables. However the smell of a skunk is something most people and pets don't forget!

Skunks like to live out of sight. Their habitats are usually located around empty fields, forests and railway tracks. When these areas are not supplying them with enough food or shelter, skunks will branch out into neighborhoods. They like to hunt at night, but will come out during daylight hours if they cannot find enough food.

Removing all of the skunks from a neighborhood, village or county is an impossible task and can greatly affect the ecosystem. There are a few things as a homeowner you can do to try and keep them out of your own yard.

What you can do

Keep food sources out of reach. Close garbage cans, fence in gardens, and control insects such as grubs in your lawn. Limit bird feeders because spilled bird food is a meal for skunks as well as birds they may catch.

Close up possible dens around your house. Wood piles, holes under door stoops, gaps below decks and even sheds that do not get much use can all be prime nesting spaces for wild animals. If you find you have gaps under your deck, close them up at night when the skunks are hunting for food. Make sure you countersink any boards at least 6 inches below ground so that the animals cannot dig underneath.

Consider using repellents. There are commercial grade repellents available for sale, however they can get pricey. The best substance to drive away animals is good old mothballs. Place these around any area you believe the skunk may be active. Do not put them in areas where it will affect your edible vegetation or where ventilation will bring the odors into your house. If you are concerned about your pet eating them, place them in old stockings. You can also use rags soaked in common ammonia in the same fashion. Do not pour the ammonia directly into the lawn for two reasons: it will damage the lawn and it will dissipate quickly. You may also try scattering cayenne pepper around to discourage their scavenging. Coating the outside bottom quarter edge of your garbage cans should stop them from knocking over trash cans to get to the food inside.

There are non-chemical repellents available such as motion controlled flood lights.Skunks do not like the light. An added bonus is flood lights deter criminal activity. There are also motion sensitive lawn sprinklers available from hardware stores and online. They hook up to your hose and squirt the critters whenever they are detected.

When you walk at night, keep a flashlight and keys with you at the ready. Loudly jingling keys and flashing skunks with the light before you get right up on them will scare them off before an encounter. If you do get up close with one, back away slowly. Skunks do not want confrontation and do not want to spray you. They will only spray when they are threatened and cannot retreat in time. When they have time to warn you, they will get low to the ground, stomp their paws and raise their tail. If you don't back off, they will turn around to spray.

Residents are not permitted to trap and/or kill skunks without a license (state law 520 ILCS 5). Poisons are indiscriminate and can kill a neighbor's pet. Use of any firearm or any projectile weapon (BB gun, air soft pistol, bow and arrow etc.) is against the law. Below is information about trapping services.

Residents are not encouraged to put out food or otherwise harbor skunks. Feeding or otherwise caring for skunks is prohibited by local ordinance.

If a skunk has sprayed

If you are trying to get rid of the scent on a pet or a surface that has been sprayed, tomato juice does not work as well as you think. Instead try this:

1 quart of 3% hydrogen peroxide
1/4 cup of baking soda
1 teaspoon liquid dishwashing soap (for example Dawn)

Wear rubber gloves. Use immediately, and outdoors, if at all possible, to keep the skunk spray out of your house. Rinse after 5 minutes and repeat if needed. Do not store this mixture. Use it immediately after mixing. If left in a closed container, the oxygen gas released could make the container burst. This mixture can bleach fur and hair color. Clothes or other fabric items sprayed directly may be best thrown way. Fabric that picked up the smell indirectly, as well as buildings and similar surfaces, can be washed with one cup of liquid laundry bleach per gallon of water (may bleach colors).


While skunks are not fun to be with, they are here to stay. Learning to live with them is necessary for us and for them. If you want to learn more here are two sites worth checking out.

Trapping services

Residents are reminded that the Village does not trap wild animals on private property. Homeowners are responsible for their own property and can hire a trapper if they want to.

The Village does not make recommendations for trapping services. In an effort to assist residents in locating services he following local trapping services are listed:

County Wildlife Control (847) 949-5655
Illinois Wildlife Control (815) 337-2719
JD's Wildlife Services (847) 769-9905