March 28, 2002

Conservation For You - By G.R. Miller Missouri Conservation Agent

During early spring months many folks will have problems with nuisance wildlife around their house or out buildings. The biggest nuisance is usually the skunk.

Striped skunks can be found almost anywhere in Missouri. While they prefer forest borders, fence rows, edges of crop fields and open grassy fields, they often live in towns and the suburbs of larger cities.

Skunks usually live in burrows or dens that they dig themselves, or that are abandoned by other animals like groundhogs or badgers. Commonly they take up residence under farmhouses and homes at the edge of town.

Skunks eat a variety of plants and animals throughout the year. Grasshoppers, beetles and crickets are the preferred diet during the summer. Skunks may also prey on mice, rats, moles, shrews, young rabbits, frogs, earthworms and other animals eggs. The larger mammals are usually consumed as carrion, while the smaller ones are caught by the skunk.

Skunks can become a major problem when they start burrowing under concrete walks, and around the foundations of houses. The skunks odor is the most troublesome of all wildlife nuisance problems.

The best way to prevent skunks from digging around your house or outbuildings include the following:

1) Keep the area free of brush and debris

2) seal all openings in the foundations of houses and outbuildings.

Once you have a skunk problem there are a few things you can do to get rid of them. First, you must find the place where the skunk is getting under your house or outbuilding. Then, just after dark find a way to seal the entrance off so the skunk cannot re-enter.

Another way is to shoot the skunk. This may be done in accordance with the "Wildlife Code of Missouri". Under 3CSR10-4.130 it states that landowners may shoot or trap skunks or other nuisance wildlife out of season when reported to the local Conservation Agent within 24 hours and disposed of in accordance with the agent's instructions.

If you would like more information on Missouri's skunks, you can contact the Missouri Department of Conservation's Northeast Regional Office at (660)785-2420.

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