Thursday, September 25, 2008


Despite the subject line, this post isn't about the Bush administration or the financial bailout.

This is about skunks - the furry black-and-white critters with the unpleasant smell. We have a yard full of luxuriant bushes and plants, just the sort of place that a shy wild creature might like to move into, and I have a sinking feeling that a local skunk may have done just that.

As I look back at my Lunch in the Yard post, it was on August 28 that I complained about the lingering scent of skunk in the back yard. If only that had been the end of things - Friday of that week, we found a dead skunk in our back yard, right where the fence meets the corner of the garage.
I took a picture of it, but I'll spare you. I looked up Oakland Animal Control on the Internet, and it basically said, we can't be bothered to send someone around - bury the carcass yourself. So we did.

We don't really know why the skunk died. If it was rabid, wouldn't they want to know? Evidently not. It didn't die in the garage, but according to my husband (who spends more time there than I do), it had been in the garage, and three weeks later he's still trying to air it out. Over the intervening several weeks, we've had skunk smells waft in, through the open upstairs windows, in the evening from time to time, which may be the remains of the last incident. Or maybe not.

Today, though, I came home from an errand, walked into the house, closed the door, and said to myself, "This place smells of skunk." Sniff again - yup, skunk. I turned on the house fan in hopes that the allergy filter on the furnace would help - several hours later I can't tell whether it has, or I've simply got used to the smell.

I began to worry when I went out to tour the foundation vents, and the access door to the crawl space, just outside the back door, was hanging from one rusted screw in one hinge (since fallen off). So anything smallish that wanted to nest under the back stairs could possibly have got in. The other vents were all solid, but it only takes one.

When my husband got home, he crawled part way under the house with a flashlight, and couldn't see or smell anything, except that we both smelled skunk strongly, right around the access door. Our current take is that a skunk sprayed the access door (which is right under an upstairs window we often open) but didn't get under the house. We left the door propped so something could get out but probably not back in, just in case.

I don't actually object to skunks; I wish them well; but I don't want them living under my house. I wish I didn't think that a local skunk had decided this is "his" yard. We already have a squirrel, a pair of towhees, and possibly a pair of Anna's hummingbirds living back there; surely that's enough wildlife support??


  1. Hedera: You might wish to consider soliciting the services of a professional animal control contractor.

    Skunks are unforgiving. If you've inadvertently taken one in as a boarder, amateur eviction may not be an option.

    It might be worth the $400 or so to get rid of it.

  2. If we conclude that we do have a smelly boarder, we'll do exactly that. I did a little Googling on the subject. Right now the evidence indicates that the basement is unoccupied; and we've mended the access gate.

    We definitely have skunks in the neighborhood, and they'll probably be by again; but as long as they're not in the house, we can live with them.