Seeing skunks and other wild critters casually wandering around in your neighborhood is actually not that much of a shock in this day and age. We're almost used to — comfortable with — the idea that we now live hand-in-hand with these creatures. We know that they're living in the back gardens we don't keep as tidy or aesthetically-pleasing as we should do. We know that they're stealing food from garbage cans and pet bowls. We know that they're leaving feces all around the place, food remnants trailed around the back garden, and holes in the once-beautiful, green lawn.
What we don't seem to know, however, is what to do about it.
Seeing a skunk in your neighborhood is still YOUR problem, even when that animal hasn't even entered your property yet. Why? Because it has the potential to enter your property, and then it really will be your problem. It is only a matter of time before the animal is turfed out of whatever hole it is living in right now, and then it'll be on the lookout for a new home. Even if it isn't unlucky enough to be evicted from the current den site, it'll still be on the lookout for something bigger – with better food sources, a better source of shelter to raise young skunks, and a warmer spot to potentially hide away in for the winter.
ANY wild critter in your neighborhood is going to be on the lookout for shelter, food and water. That means your home could come under attack at any moment, and attacks from skunks and other wild critters will usually mean a risk of contracting or spreading potentially deadly diseases, holes in the lawn, garbage bags torn open and the contents strewn across the floor, agitated or injured pets, and actual physical damage to your home or other buildings on your property. Skunk sightings are NOT to be taken lightly.
What to do when you see skunks in your neighborhood:
To start with, you're going to want to perform a thorough home inspection. Upon entering a property for the first time, we perform a 32-point inspection that covers both the inside and the outside of the building. This is the kind of extensive investigation you'll also need to do, to ensure that your home can put up a hefty fight against a wild animal intruder.
Any holes or patches of damage that has been spotted during the initial inspection will then need to be repaired or sealed up. Materials must be hardy enough to withstand wild animal battles, including rats, which are known for chewing through practically any material you put in their way. Sadly, a side effect of having one wild animal invader, is a second one, and potentially even more than that. Rats will always join the party when food is on the table, whether you have spotted them or not. Insects come soon after, too, and will come in their droves when dead/decomposing corpses are added to the mix. That's another unpleasant side effect of having a wild animal infestation — it is usually only a matter of time before that animal dies … and where do you think it will die? More than likely in your home or on your property.
As well as making sure your home is well protected from skunk interlopers, you should also take a good, hard look at your back garden or surrounding property. Can you see any food? That will need to removed or protected right away. Even when you don't think there is any food in your yard, there is plenty. Fruit trees drop their goodies to the floor, and many a passing scavenger will lap up that particular delight. Plants and flowers, alongside vegetable patches, are hard hit areas, too. These can be protected in a number of ways, both under and overground.
Bird feeders need to be placed in such a way that they can't be accessed by other animals, including skunks (and raccoons — one of the worst culprits for attacking bird feeders), and you should also make sure you're not leaving food for other animals lying around the place — pet food, chicken feed, human food, etc.
Garbage bags should be safely placed in metal garbage cans, with lids that can be securely held in place. These should also be moved into a shed or other outbuilding if you have the opportunity, too. This will prevent wild critters from tearing them open to get to the food you throw out in the trash.
Above all, a fence should be installed. If you have a fence already, check that it is up to scratch, and that there is a layer of protection underground. A six-foot high fence isn't going to do much against an animal that'll take just fifteen minutes to dig right under it. Mesh wiring attacked to the bottom of the fence, heading underground, will soon sort that particular problem out, and you could also look into adding rough stones or gravel moats. (Dig a trench, fill with coarse, sharp-edged rocks and stones, and hope that the animal finds the whole process too painful to carry on digging through.)
Once you're done with all of your property modifications (and these are just a few; there are many more), you should then make sure that all of your hard work is well-maintained. Your home can't just be sealed the once and then forgotten about. You must check your repairs, and regularly check your home and building, not just for signs of damage, but also for signs of animal infestation or activity.
A skunk in the neighborhood could become your problem, but you could also use the sighting as a warning sign: it's time to start skunk-proofing your home!
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