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The Smell of Skunk is in the Air

It’s almost Valentine’s Day, and Pepé Le Pew is on the prowl.

It’s a funny coincidence that my parents in Connecticut had a skunk visit their garage this week, too. Now a pungent stink is wafting through both of our homes, thousands of miles away from each other. Windows open, scented candles burning, the odor is slowing dissipating in their house and in ours here on the Coast.

It's a coincidence, but apparently a not too uncommon one this time of year.

February and March is mating season for striped skunks all over North America. The stink occurs when the male tries to court the female, who may not be "in the mood" as we learned from Pepé Le Pew, the French skunk in Paris who constantly seeks "l'amour" of his own. No wonder all that quibbling and squealing we heard the last couple of evenings coming from our yard. This guy is not taking "no" for an answer. And now I know what that black-and-white cat-like animal was, prowling around our driveway last week. It must have been Pepé Le Pew himself.

According to a Nationwide Directory Of Skunk Control Professionals, males begin to range widely this time of year, often leaving their own territories in search of a mate. During mating season, the males are very excitable and spray at random. While skunks are normally nocturnal animals that favor burrows, when they search for mates above ground they often wander into residential territory. Skunks may also be attracted to a garage if the door has been left open and there is garbage inside.

Skunks can spray up to 15 feet with great accuracy, and the spray is used for self defense and to mark territory, according to the Skunk Whisperer website. Female skunks are picky about mates, and when a potential suitor does not meet her approval, she will spray him and move on.

Just last week, ABC News posted a story about skunks "invading" Sacramento.

“[It's] from coast to coast. Skunks come out to play this time of year. You can set the clock by it,” said Ned Bruha, of Animal Network’s “Ned Bruha: Skunk Whisperer” in the article. “All a skunk wants is food, water, shelter and this time of [year] sex,” said Bruha, who recommends feeding pets inside and keeping garbage bags in lidded cans. “You can’t blame them for trying.”

So what else can you do to avoid getting sprayed during mating season?

1) Close your garage door as soon as you come in.

2) Place tight lids on trash containers.

3) Keep composters and bird feeders animal proof.

4) Treat insect infestations in your yard to minimize food sources for skunks.

5) Remove woodpiles that may provide shelter for skunks.

6) Block any openings under porches and crawl spaces that could provide shelter for skunks.

7) Stay inside with your pets at night — healthy skunks are sometimes seen in early morning or late afternoon, but they are primarily nocturnal.

8) Contact your local animal control service if you need help removing a skunk from an area.

Any other tips? Please add them in the comments section below.

Have you smelled skunk in the air lately? Love certainly can stink. Tell us about it.

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Joan S. Dentler February 07, 2013 at 05:25 PM
Thanks Christa....while walking my dog the other night, we saw two skunks (clearly a male in pursuit of a female) darting back and forth across the street. Moments before they had startled my husband as he put out the trash. We Googled it to confirm what you've shared here---it's mating season, so look out!
Dee February 07, 2013 at 05:31 PM
This explains a lot! Last couple of days I have smelled skunk in my yard. And on my morning commute over the 92, smelled it again 3x! .... at Half Moon Bay nursery, around Ralston exit and then again at Alameda de las Pulgas. Too funny. Yes, love can stink!
Richard February 08, 2013 at 05:26 AM
Pepe Le Pew is on the prowl ... on Two Coasts ... YUP ! ... TENEZ VOTRE NEZ http://iaws.imageammo.com/share.php?u=32337eaa58b41892322c07839871add6&w=ec65e4f20c26b6b3941b92956f13916a

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