Skunks have been holed up for the winter and are now emerging to continue the cycle of life, mating season. They typically mate in February and March and give birth in May and June. Skunks are nocturnal and are seen most often at dusk and early morning.
Right now is a great time to get out and inspect your property. Check around your stoop, deck, shed, or anywhere else a skunk could burrow to make a den. Clear away brush or remove wood piles which are also places of harborage. Deck screening is recommended to keep animals from burrowing underneath your porch or deck. You can dig a shallow trench and bury the screening several inches beneath ground level.
Make sure that your window wells are covered. It’s best to use good quality window well covers, the kind that you can stand on. The Lake Forest Police often receive calls from residents because a skunk or other animal has fallen into the window well and can’t get out. If this happens, a do-it-yourself method of extraction is simply to place a 2x4 into the opening to make a ramp so the animal can climb out.
Skunks are omnivores (eat plant and animal material). They prefer to eat insects, particularly grasshoppers, beetles, and crickets. They also eat grubs and other insect larvae, and bees and wasps. When the opportunity arises they will take mice, rats, moles, shrews, young ground squirrels and rabbits, nesting birds, nestlings, and bird or snake eggs. Skunks also eat corn, berries, and other vegetation. In an urban environment, they may eat garbage or pet food.
It should be noted that in the warmer months, heavy watering of lawns will bring earthworms and grubs closer to the surface of the soil. These are tasty treats for skunks! Skunks will dig up the turf and leave awful-looking brown patches in the lawn.
Keep an eye on your pets. A skunk can direct their “spray” up to 15 feet away and will aim for the eyes. This causes a burning sensation in addition to the overwhelming smell.
Visit the Illinois Department of Natural Resources website for more information about skunks.