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Skunks: love them or hate them, they're here to spray

by Scott Hall
Wed, Aug 17th 2011 12:00 pm

 

 

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - You can tell they're in the neighborhood, even if you can't see them. Skunks are making their way into North Buffalo.

Every night, after dark falls, a unique and very pungent odor wafts down Avery Avenue. All of a sudden, the president of the local block club is hearing a lot more complaints about skunks from his neighbors.

Avery Avenue-Holling Homes block club president Michael Beam said, "They see them, but also mostly smell them. You know, and you can't really approach it to shoo it away, because you get sprayed."

Several skunk complaints have come in to Buffalo's 311 line, too. Some of the critters have been caught in traps placed by Public Works crews. But it doesn't look like there's been a big explosion in the skunk population.

Public Works Commissioner Steve Stepniak said, "What we find, in these hot summers and these hot weather periods, is that they tend to move around more. It may seem like there's more, but they're just more active."

Residents here think there's more at play than the weather. They point to a nearby tract of land on Colvin Boulevard, where patio homes are being built. Until recently, it was an open field - a perfect place for skunks to burrow and scavenge for food.

"And of course, when you take away a natural resource, the animals have to travel outward. So yes, I would say that we're noticing them coming and staying more in the community. It's almost like they're becoming more comfortable around us," said Beam.

The city requires all builders to set up their own wildlife traps at construction sites, and okay the trapping plan with the Department of Public Works. There is no "magic bullet" skunk repellent, but homeowners can take some proactive steps to keep these unwelcome guests out of their yards. Keep in mind, these little guys are usually looking either for something to eat, or a place to hide.

Buffalo Exterminating nuisance wildlife specialist Jeff Cummings said, "Exclusion is the best policy, especially around decks and porches, and installing a wildlife fence."

So, to skunk-proof your property: seal holes in or underneath your porch, deck, or fence completely - skunks can squeeze through surprisingly tiny spaces. Don't leave open garbage cans, pet food, or birdseed outside. And consider treating your lawn with grub-killing chemicals - bugs make a tasty dinner for skunks.

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